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Safer care through NEWS (National Early Warning Score)

The West of England Patient Safety Collaborative has developed a programme, delivered by the West of England AHSN, encouraging the use of a single early warning score – the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) – across the region.

Currently, the acute trusts, out-of-hours GP services, mental health trusts, community service providers and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have all signed up to support the adoption and spread of NEWS, and communicating this score at the interfaces of care across the system.

The use of early warning scores is being recommended in primary and community care settings.  The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death report in November 2015 (‘Just Say Sepsis!’) has most recently argued that an early warning score should be used in both primary and secondary care wherever sepsis is suspected.  Early warning scores are increasingly becoming part of the lexicon for communication about physiology between all health care providers, enhancing and focusing the handover of technical information about patients, especially those at risk of deterioration.

Here is the latest version of the NEWS poster, to see a summary of the project including results and challenges click here.

NEWS in practice

We now have a number of examples of patient stories from across the region where NEWS has been used to assess and trigger responses across patient pathways and ultimately improving outcomes for those patients.

One of these examples was a patient in North Somerset who visited his GP with cellulitis but felt very poorly.  The GP used NEWS to assess that the patient was acutely unwell and needed rapid treatment. NEWS was used to track the patient’s condition from primary care, into the ambulance and into the Emergency Department and clearly showed he was deteriorating.  This patient had sepsis but thanks to the early detection of his condition in primary care, it was treated within five hours of seeing his GP and he made a quick and full recovery.

We have produced a short film to tell this story.

NEWS in acute settings

In order to achieve our aims we have adopted a breakthrough collaborative model. Our acute providers have all committed to using NEWS as the early warning score of choice. To date, the West of England AHSN has supported two acute trusts (North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust) to convert to NEWS through a dedicated education and training manager, who has helped produce a NEWS Implementation Toolkit. It is available free as a support tool to implement NEWS in your organisation.

NEWS in emergency departments

We are supporting the roll-out of the Emergency Department Safety Checklist, piloted at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which includes the requirement to take hourly observations and calculate NEWScores to track patient acuity in ED. We have also developed a free toolkit for implementing the ED Safety Checklist.

NEWS in community settings

We have teamed up with our community providers supporting them with identification of the deteriorating patient in a community setting.  We are working with each CCG to help raise the profile of NEWS across the different settings and are producing a suite of resources for GPs to support use of NEWS in pre-hospital settings. We have some brilliant examples of NEWS being used in practice.

NEWS in primary care

If you would like a simple information sheet explaining what NEWS is and why it’s a relevant tool for primary care download it here.

We have produced supporting information in postcard and business card size. Which you are welcome to download and use for free.

If you are an EMIS user you have access to a NEWS template. This video explains how to set up: watch here. We also have a template available in SystemOne, please email for more information.

Tying all of this work together, we have run various collaborative cross-sector learning set events over the past year with more than 100 attendees from healthcare providers across the region and beyond. To read the reports from these events, please see below.

Our next NEWS event is 15 March 2018 in Bristol, please click the link below.

NEWS on your phone

These links are provided for information only.


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download toolkit-01 book for our next event-01 get involved-01
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If you would like to get involved or want more information, please contact the team at

Previous events