The PReCePT programme is reducing the incidence of cerebral palsy by offering magnesium sulphate to all eligible women in England during preterm labour (less than 30 weeks). Magnesium sulphate costs from just £1 per dose.

PReCePT stands for the Prevention of Cerebral Palsy in PreTerm Labour. The project was originally developed by the West of England AHSN in collaboration with University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, and involved both patients and staff.

In 2016, PReCePT was successfully rolled out to all five acute trusts in the West of England, using a Quality Improvement (QI) approach to support uptake.

The initiative has so far prevented around seven cases of cerebral palsy in the West of England, representing potential lifetime healthcare savings in the region of £5 million and substantially more when including loss of productivity and social care costs over a lifetime.

For every 37 mothers who receive magnesium sulphate, we can prevent one case of cerebral palsy. As a result of PReCePT, fewer babies will develop cerebral palsy and the quality of life of preterm babies and their families will be improved.

In June 2021, PReCePT was shortlisted for a 2021 HSJ Patient Safety Award. Read about our shortlisted projects here.

Watch our videos to find out more:

The PReCePT Programme – national adoption and spread of PReCePT

Following the successful roll out of PReCePT across the West of England in 2016, PReCePT is one of the seven programmes being adopted and spread across the country by all 15 AHSNs during 2018-2020, funded by NHS England. The West of England AHSN is leading on this programme.

This work brings together the 15 AHSNs and the aligned drivers of the Maternal and Neonatal Health Safety Collaborative (MNHSC) and the national Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs). Together, we aim to ensure at least 85% of all eligible mothers are receiving magnesium sulphate across all maternity units in England by 2020, with a ‘stretch target’ of 95%.

About one in ten babies of very low birth weight develop a form of cerebral palsy, yet giving mothers in preterm labour magnesium sulphate reduces the risk of their baby developing cerebral palsy by 30%. Successful scaling up of PReCePT is likely to prevent several hundred cases of cerebral palsy per year, based on very strong research evidence.


By the end of the AHSN Network national programme in March 2020, all 152 maternity units in England had adopted PReCePT. The programme achieved its aim of 85% uptake and variation in administration was significantly reduced.

An estimated 48 cases of cerebral palsy were avoided as a result of PReCePT, saving an estimated £38.4 million in lifetime health and social care costs (figures from 2018-2021).

Read more in our PReCePT impacts case study.

The PReCePT Study: Scaling-Up funding

PReCePT has been selected as one of seven UK projects to receive £0.5 million through the Health Foundation’s Scaling Up Improvement programme. This programme supports teams to take successful healthcare interventions or approaches and deliver them at scale, to improve health care in the UK.

The PReCePT Study is a research trial nested within the PReCePT national programme. It aims to assess the effectiveness of two different Quality Improvement approaches in implementing PReCePT across a subset of maternity units.

Of the 152 maternity units across England in the PReCePT Programme, 40 maternity units have been randomly selected to be part of the PReCePT study. Within this group, 13 units are receiving enhanced QI support from the Study team, and 27 units are being observed while implementing the standard QI support model.

Find out more on the Health Foundation website.

PReCePT Study numbers

PReCePT resources

Health Education England interactive e-learning resource on PReCePT

The PReCePT Quality Improvement (QI) Toolkit is packed full of useful documents to help you understand, plan and implement PReCePT in your maternity unit.