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The PReCePT Programme: from little acorns, oak trees grow

Ellie Wetz, Programme Manager for the National PReCePT Programme, and West of England Medicines Safety Programme, shares how PReCePT has grown over the last five years.

In a world where the impact of our patient safety work may feel small, it is sometimes amazing and surprising to hear that a project you have worked on has been heard about, discussed and replicated on the other side of the planet.

I have the very good fortune of leading the national PREventing CErebral Palsy in PreTerm babies (PReCePT) Programme. When babies are born under 30 weeks’ gestation, they are at risk of developing cerebral palsy; by giving the mother magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) within 24 hours of delivery, this reduces that risk.

This programme was born in the West of England; a small acorn of a project at the time. It began in five maternity units in 2014/15, and saw the uptake of magnesium sulphate increase from 21% (before the project started) to 88% by the end of the project. This project resulted in seven cases of cerebral palsy being avoided, which had a significant impact on those babies and their families, and represents a lifetime health and social care cost saving of around £5.5 million. Not such a small acorn any more.

The success of the project made it ripe to be adopted and spread across the UK, and was selected as one of the seven national programmes to be delivered by the AHSN Network in 2018-2020; a seedling starts to grow.

By World Patient Safety Day 2019, the national PReCePT Programme will be active in 94% of maternity units across England; 3,373 mothers have been treated since the start of the programme; 91 cases of cerebral palsy have been avoided, and at least 19 of these are due to the PReCePT Programme. This equates to an additional saving of £15.2million in lifetime health and social care costs. From that acorn, an oak tree now grows.

The PReCePT Programme is incredibly lucky to be clinically led by one of the most inspiring, knowledgeable and respected neonatologists this country has to offer, Karen Luyt. She is the greatest advocate; spreading the word of our work regionally, nationally and internationally. In partnership with the West of England AHSN she submitted an application to the HSJ Patient Safety awards and PReCePT won the Maternity and Midwifery Services Initiative of the Year 2019. She has also had a paper on PReCePT published in the internationally acclaimed Vermont Oxford Network which has resulted in our PReCePT resources being downloaded in Wales, Scotland, and as far away as the USA and Libya.

From the seed of a project in the West of England, the branches of our oak are now wrapping around the world; supporting clinicians across the globe to help reduce the risk of cerebral palsy for potentially millions of families.

It has been such a privilege to work on this programme and be part of a national network of managers and clinicians all working to improve health outcomes for tiny, beautiful babies.

Read more, and watch our videos about the PReCePT project here.


Posted on September 17, 2019 by Ellie Wetz, Programme Manager for the National PReCePT Programme, and West of England Medicines Safety Programme, West of England AHSN

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