Regional Perinatal Equity Network celebrates first anniversary

Maternity and neonatal practitioners came together in the South West this month to celebrate one year since the launch of the Regional Perinatal Equity Network, marking the anniversary with talks on perinatal inequalities from speakers including obstetrician Dr Christine Ekechi, author Kim Thomas and the Positive Birth Company.

The Regional Perinatal Equity Network (RPEN), a collaboration between the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and South West AHSN came from a growing commitment from those working in perinatal care across the region to work together to address inequality within maternity and neonatal services. The network is delivered by both AHSNs as part of NHS England’s Maternity & Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme.

The milestone RPEN event gave the opportunity to reflect on the aims of the network and what it has to celebrate. Its first year has seen over 250 attendees across four events with a range of distinguished speakers. It is growing steadily as a community, offering a safe space to explore issues which practitioners may not have time to do elsewhere. Recently, Maternal and Neonatal Clinical Lead at the West of England AHSN, Ann Remmers, looked back on a successful first year of RPEN in a blog.

During the anniversary event, attendees heard from several prominent speakers about the positive action that has been and continues to be taken to tackle health inequity in perinatal care.

First to speak was Dr Christine Ekechi, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, London, and Co-Chair of the Race Equality Taskforce at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

After sharing the shocking statistics from FivexMore’s The Black Maternity Experiences Survey that black women are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and Asian women are twice as likely to die in pregnancy, Dr Ekechi discussed the causes behind and factors contributing to this huge gap in perinatal equity, including social deprivation and structural racism. Dr Ekechi highlighted the positive and inspiring action that has been taken over the last two years, including the setup of organisations and taskforces, provision of resources, and investment.

Kim Thomas, author, journalist and CEO of Birth Trauma Association spoke to the group about postnatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and inequalities. PTSD following childbirth affects 1 in 25 women – approximately 25,000-30,000 women in the UK. Partners can also experience PTSD. Poor care is a contributory factor.

Kim’s talk included information and statistics from The Black Maternity Experiences survey on accessing help and why some women don’t seek help, as well as recommendations for improvement.

Charlotte Burrows, Programme Director – Design at South West AHSN, shared the latest findings from research undertaken by SW AHSN’s Perinatal Health Equity Programme. As part of the South West AHSN’s Perinatal Health Equity Programme, Apollo Health Innovations was commissioned to explore birthing peoples’ lived experiences of perinatal care through a series of focus groups, interviews and online conversations. The report is informing the programme in its aim of identifying and spreading innovative practice to close health equity gaps in the South West region.

Our final speaker was Angie Driver, Head of Operations at the Positive Birth Company (PBC), a company whose mission is to make birth education more accessible for all.

Angie used the event to launch the PBC’s new cultural competency workshop. Closing the gap: addressing racial disparities in antenatal services & birth outcomes shares learning for healthcare professionals and is CPD accredited.

Attendees and speakers were thanked for their contributions to the network since its launch, and for their passion, enthusiasm and dedication to champion this cause and work towards making a difference. The event closed with practitioners being invited to share reflections on the last year and make a personal pledge for the upcoming year.

Join our next RPEN event on 25 January 2023. Learn more and register here.

About the Regional Perinatal Equity Network (RPEN)

Our ambition is to serve as a community of practice, exploring the delivery of meaningful, actionable improvements to reduce inequity of outcomes for black, brown and racially minoritized women and families within the perinatal system. Health inequalities are not restricted to race and ethnicity and this network seeks to understand the wider distribution of burden by socioeconomic markers of inequality and the complex interplay of multiple markers of inequity.

The network is open to all working within maternity and newborn services, related organisations or those with a responsibility or interest in reducing inequalities in the NHS. Parents and parent partners are also warmly welcomed to join.

To read more about our Maternal and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme work visit our webpage or subscribe to our newsletter

New evaluation shows FeNO testing project is supporting better asthma diagnosis across Gloucestershire

More patients in Gloucestershire are receiving faster and more reliable diagnoses of asthma thanks to an ambitious project designed to ensure adoption and spread of proven innovative products, according to a new evaluation.  Three Primary Care Networks in the Stroud and Berkeley Vale locality of Gloucestershire took part in a project, led by the West of England AHSN and delivered by Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB), which supported practitioners from 17 practices to deliver FeNO testing following face to face training and e-learning modules. The project resulted in 272 patients receiving a diagnosis of asthma.

FeNO testing is part of the Rapid Uptake Products (RUP) programme to increase uptake of NICE approved products. FeNO devices measure fractional exhaled oxide in the breath of patients, which provides an indication of the level of inflammation in the lungs. This can be used to aid in the diagnosis of asthma. It is a quick and easy test that can be carried out by any healthcare professional that has received training. Benefits of FeNO testing include:

  • improved speed and accuracy of diagnosis for patients suspected of having asthma
  • improved patient care and outcomes, reducing the risk of exacerbations and hospital admissions
  • reduction in inappropriate prescribing and referrals to secondary care

Prior to this project, FeNO testing was only offered at a hospital-based clinic that ran sporadically over a 5-year period and therefore wasn’t widely available across the county.  This clinic was re-established for 7 months at the start of the project to provide a blueprint for primary care based FeNO testing. The project evaluation has found during these seven months, 18 practitioners attended the clinic for training from a Senior Nurse Practitioner and to receive a FeNO device for their practice. This enabled the transfer of respiratory clinics from the hospital setting into primary care, with 431 patients accessing a FeNO test in their GP practice between October 2021 and June 2022 and 272 patients receiving a diagnosis of asthma. The evaluation also noted provision of FeNO testing at a local level has improved access and reduced travel for patients, with over 75% of patients surveyed travelling less than 6 miles and waiting less than 2 weeks for an appointment.

FeNO testing has since been rolled out at practice level across Gloucestershire to ensure equity of access as part of a system wide Respiratory Diagnostics Local Enhanced Service (LES).

The West of England AHSN supported the application for Pathway Transformation Funding to enable the purchase of FeNO devices, in addition to the use of the hospital-based clinic as a route to delivering training to practice staff. Project management support was provided by the AHSN to monitor the project timeline, collect and analyse data and record risks and issues.  Surveys were co-created and regularly reviewed to measure and continuously improve staff and patient experience of the new service.  As part of the AHSN’s regional FeNO Programme, it co-ordinated the delivery of education webinars that were open to healthcare professionals across the West of England – these were attended by 90 delegates.

“Having previously offered FeNO testing following referral and seen the improvements in accurate diagnosis, patient education and confidence in self-management, we are now able to offer the test without the delays associated with referral, close to the patient in their GP practice with competent health care professionals in a way that is sustainable in the longer term. We achieved the aims of our project and have also been able to roll out the model across the whole ICB”.

Carol Stonham, Senior Nurse Practitioner – Respiratory, Gloucestershire ICB

“It has been great to work with the ICB on this project, who have really championed the use of FeNO testing in primary care.  The data from this evaluation demonstrates how patients are benefitting from easier access to FeNO testing, which will continue thanks to system wide support”.

Charlotte Hallett, Senior Project Manager, West of England AHSN

Read more about FeNO testing with our patient stories and free implementation resources.

Working with BSW CCG to improve diabetes care

The West of England AHSN and Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG (BSW CCG) are reaching the end of a 12-month project to improve care for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Since the project launched in February 2021, a community of practice has been established with 174 members from 58 practices alongside secondary care staff.  22 practices have made positive changes as a result of the project thus far, with a further 44 practices continuing to implement changes. Interim results show the percentage of BSW patients with type 2 diabetes in the high-risk category has reduced from 33.3% to 28.9%.

Hear more in this short video from Wiltshire GP and BSW CCG Diabetes GP Champion, Dr Julia Hempenstall:


The project used an innovative care framework which aims to support those living with type 2 diabetes. Multiple long-term condition frameworks, developed by UCL Partners, are freely available and they help practices manage large numbers of patients with long-term conditions, whilst empowering the primary care workforce and the patients themselves. This ten-minute summary video from UCLPartners outlines the approach and resources available.

BSW CCG chose to adopt this approach, utilising education and training, as part of a multidisciplinary team, with a focus on supporting practices with the greatest treatment gap and in areas of greatest deprivation. A treatment gap is the actual versus the target % of the population whose treatment has been optimised.

The AHSN have provided project management, developed local implementation resources and facilitated workshops and virtual events.

So far:

  • 58 practices have joined the community of practice
  • Seven BSW primary care networks have all their practices either implementing or engaged with the approach
  • 22 practices are implementing the approach with more planning to start in April 2022
  • 33 delegates have attended motivational coaching training

The community of practice aims to connect clinicians across the CCG to improve their confidence in diabetes management and add a sense of belonging following two years of changes to usual work practices due to the pandemic.  With these improved connections, practice resilience, workforce capacity and integrated diabetes care can also flourish.

Brian Leitch, Commissioning Manager at BSW CCG said:

“As commissioner for diabetes, it’s been great watching practices come together on their own terms in the community of practice, to share information and resources and to discuss how to best support their patients”.

An Advanced Nurse Practitioner working on the project said:

“This has streamlined how we work, reduced the burden on the practice through calls as well as helped support patients to become more responsible for their care. We have identified issues and improved staff and patient awareness of diagnosis as well as treatment of diabetes”

Director of Service and System Transformation at the West of England AHSN, Kay Haughton, said:

“The care frameworks have been a fantastic launch pad for us to support primary care colleagues in BSW. They offer a great opportunity to consider redesigning delivery of care, providing those with diabetes, and other long-term conditions, greater autonomy and support in self-management. It has been a privilege to work with our CCG and primary care colleagues to help transform services for people who have diabetes.”

BSW CCG will continue to progress the improvement programme with longer term impact measures reviewed in the next 12 months, including:

  • Reduced number of practice visits
  • Improvement in patient satisfaction
  • Downward trend in numbers of high-risk patients
  • Changes in medication and potential cost savings

The West of England AHSN will continue to support the roll out of long term condition care frameworks through a new blood pressure optimisation programme. The programme aims to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and vascular dementia in patients with hypertension.

Find out more about the West of England’s work to support those with long term conditions by contacting us.

Marking COPD Awareness Month – improving patient safety

During COPD Awareness Month, the acute hospitals in the West of England have been celebrating their work to improve patient safety as part of the NHS England and Improvement Adoption and Spread Safety Improvement Programme. This has included a 34% increase (to June 2021) in the number of patients receiving all elements (for which they are eligible) of the COPD Discharge Bundle.

The British Lung Foundation describes COPD as a group of lung conditions that make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because the airways have become narrowed. This causes breathlessness. Worsening of breathlessness (often as a result of infection) is called an exacerbation. Exacerbations of COPD are one of the leading causes of hospital admission, and readmission following exacerbation also occurs frequently. All admissions to hospital have a negative impact on patients both physically and psychologically. Reducing the impact of admissions for lung disease is one of the key ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Adoption and spread of the COPD Discharge Bundle

Providing COPD patients with a number of simple interventions while they are in hospital, can reduce the chance of readmission. These interventions (listed below) form the COPD Discharge Bundle:

  1. Inhaler technique assessed and corrected
  2. Patient or carer has written information & understands their self-management plan
  3. Provision of rescue medication packs
  4. Smokers referred for smoking cessation
  5. Assessment for enrolment in pulmonary rehabilitation
  6. Appropriate follow-up arranged within 72 hours

The National Patient Safety Improvement Programme project – which started in November 2019 – has focussed on increasing the use of all appropriate elements of the bundle. This work has been coordinated across the region by the West of England AHSN alongside each of our acute hospital trusts:

  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GHT)
  • Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GWH)
  • North Bristol Trust (NBT)
  • Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH)
  • University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust (UHBW)

Improving patient safety

Since commencing the project, we have seen some significant regional and local improvements in delivery of the bundle:

  • 34% of patients in the West of England region received every element of the bundle (for which they are eligible) in June 2021, up from 0% in November 2019.
  • From April to June 2021, between 66-71% of COPD patients across the West of England were provided with a self-management plan.
  • In June and July 2021, 100% of GHT COPD patients had their inhaler technique checked.
  • In June 2021, 91% of GWH COPD patients who smoke were offered smoking cessation support.
  • In July 2021, 95% of RUH COPD patients were assessed for their suitability for pulmonary rehabilitation.
  • In RUH and GWH over 90% of COPD patients had a follow-up appointment arranged.

Working collaboratively to drive improvement

Through a West of England network, the respiratory teams have worked collaboratively to collectively share ideas and overcome barriers to optimise the use of the bundle.

Alongside improvements made to the delivery of the bundle, each team has also completed their own local quality improvement (QI) project to improve aspects of patient care. These projects are related to the bundle elements, including upskilling staff on Brief Intervention Training for smoking cessation, reviewing self-management plans and delivering training to improve front door diagnosis. The outcomes of these projects will be shared and celebrated through the month of November.

Mark Juniper, Respiratory Consultant and Clinical Lead at the West of England AHSN said:

It has been great to work with the teams from different hospitals on this project for the last two years. Despite the pressure on respiratory services during the pandemic, they have managed to improve the care of patients with COPD. This work has provided an ideal focus for improvement and bringing the teams together to share ideas and what they have learned has been really exciting.

What’s next

On 9 November, we are running a joint event with the South West and Wessex AHSNs on the wider aspects of COPD and asthma care. This event is now fully booked however recordings of a number of the sessions will be available afterwards, so please join our waiting list.

The West of England AHSN are also celebrating COPD Awareness Month – and World COPD Day on 17 November – throughout November on Twitter. This will include showcasing the QI projects undertaken by each respiratory team.

The COPD Discharge Bundle is one element of the national Adoption and Spread Patient Safety Improvement Programme. Find out more about our work on the programme here.

Celebrating SHarED: a positive impact on patients and ED staff

As the Supporting High impAct useRs in Emergency Departments (SHarED) project comes to a close the collaborative are celebrating the interim results for patients and staff. The project aimed to pilot a High Impact User (HIU) service in each Emergency Department (ED) in the West of England in order to better manage and support a cohort of patients that frequently attend EDs. Before being chosen for regional adoption and spread as one of two successful 2019 Evidence in to Practice applications, a HIU model was developed at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW), where it has been running for five years.

Why is supporting HIUs so important?

HIU of EDs suffer some of the most severe health inequalities in the UK. HIU and ‘super-users’ are defined as those who attend the ED more than five and 20 times respectively each year. As a patient group, HIUs experience exceptionally high rates of mental health challenges; learning disability; homelessness; substance misuse; domestic abuse and safeguarding concerns. HIUs often attend the ED as they have nowhere else to go.

As well as the negative outcomes for HIUs attending ED when that service may be unsuitable for their needs, and the resulting strain on ED staff to manage high levels of repeat attendances, there is also a significant financial impact on the NHS. Some ‘super-users’ cost £30,000 per year in ED attendance and hospital admission.

The impact on patients

Whilst working on a new project during the COVID-19 pandemic offered a series of challenges, collectively the five ED teams across the West of England have supported over 140 patients.

Interim data demonstrates:

  • a 44% reduction in the number of attendances following the first month of engagement for 89% of the patients engaged.
  • The remaining 11% of the patients saw a significant escalation in their behaviour, however it is broadly acknowledged that the highly complex nature of these individuals often means that where attendances cannot be reduced, the teams are there to provide appropriate support and improve the experience of the patients and staff members alike.
  • Additional data collected by a number of trusts demonstrates that where attendance had increased, the impact and cost of each attendance had reduced.

Dr Rebecca Thorpe, the Clinical Lead for SHarED said:

The SHarED project has propelled our work to support some of the most vulnerable, marginalised patient groups in society, who access Emergency Departments frequently, for a variety of reasons. Working with teams from Emergency Departments all over the West of England, we’ve educated staff and supported patients to work towards safer patient care and an improved experience for patients and staff. It’s a fantastic example of cultural change across the whole patch.

Clare Evans, the Programme Manager for SHarED said:

The West of England AHSN are proud to have supported the adoption and spread of the HIU model across our region. The project has flourished despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and that is a testament to the dedication and hard work of everybody involved – especially the staff in ED teams. The commitment to appropriately supporting this most vulnerable of patient groups has been exemplary.

The impact on ED staff

Throughout the funded period of the project, the ED teams have delivered training to over 360 members of staff to raise awareness of the service and best practice guidance on how to manage HIUs, ultimately seeking to improve the culture in the department.

Feedback from a recent staff experience survey included:

  • “Dedicated HIU teams are making a real difference to the appropriate management of these patients.”
  • “Great to have agreed (HIU) plans that are regularly reviewed with opportunity for patient input.”
  • “Our HIU team are brilliant and have made a huge impact on not only the number of attendances but patient outcome and reduction in violence and aggression cases”
  • “The (HIU) support plans in place currently are really helpful. Keep it up!”

Dr Sarah Harper, Pain Consultant and HIU Team Lead, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

Taking part in SHarED allowed our HIU Team the time, support and resource to really address the underlying issues which can drive patient requirement for large amounts of unscheduled care. By developing Personal Support Plans, in collaboration with patients and other professionals, we managed to reduce attendance rates, reduce admission rates to hospital and smooth the path of patients when they did attend the Department, thereby supporting our staff in dealing with these patients who often have complex health needs. Feedback from our ED staff was extremely positive. Looking to the future, with thanks to SHarED, we’re continuing to develop our HIU service.

What’s next?

While the West of England AHSN funding has now ceased, the ED teams are working with their trusts to secure on going support. Each team are passionate about continuing the important work that has been started in the SHarED project.

We are now looking forward to the seeing the full project evaluation, which will seek to fully understand the effectiveness of the SHarED model. We expect to receive the completed evaluation in Autumn 2022.

Read more about the SHarED project. Our free resources include an implementation guide to support trusts and systems outside the West of England to review, adopt and spread the model.

How our Learning Disabilities Collaborative was formed

In this blog to mark Learning Disabilities Week 2021, Dr Alison Tavaré, who is a GP, one of our Primary Care Clinical Leads and South West Clinical Lead for the NHS@home programme, discusses how the idea for the West of England Learning Disabilities Collaborative (WELDC) took shape…

As a GP and a clinical lead at the West of England AHSN I have always had a special interest in the use of NEWS2 (National Early Warning Score) to support clinicians in the early identification and management of the unwell patient. However, the more I used NEWS2 the more I wondered if patients could record observations such as their blood pressure or pulse rate and share these measurements with clinicians to help us decide whether they needed to be seen, and if so by who, and with what urgency. Read more about NEWS2.

Making connections

The idea evolved and I shared it with my brother Ian, and his wife Kate, who are the parents of Toby who has a learning disability and therefore finds it a challenge to tell others when something is wrong. A few months later Toby developed a cough and became very quiet and subdued; while this may not be unusual for many people, for Toby this can be a sign that he is unwell. Kate took a full set of observations, calculated a NEWS2 score of 6 and took Toby to the local emergency department where he was promptly treated for sepsis.

LeDeR (Learning Disability Mortality Review) has identified that not only are people with a learning disability more likely to die of sepsis but on average they die more than 20 years younger than the general population. While this may partly be due to underlying health conditions it is also known that being unable to say you are unwell is another contributing factor.

Sharing Toby’s story

With permission I started to share Toby’s story when I spoke about NEWS2 and soon found there were many others who shared my concern that communication could be difficult if someone who has a learning disability becomes unwell. Anne Pullyblank, the medical director of the West of England AHSN, and I therefore decided to find out if there could be any interest in developing a group where practical ideas and strategies could be shared. We sent a speculative email which immediately generated lots of positive responses, and in 2019 the West of England Learning Disability Collaborative (WELDC) was established. There are now over 300 members from diverse backgrounds and include experts by experience, families, carers and clinicians.

Continuing the WELDC journey

The WELDC has continued to flourish and in the past year alone have delivered webinars on COVID-19, annual health checks, digital solutions and advance care planning. Alongside this there has been lots of sharing of knowledge and expertise and we have even had a question asked in the House of Lords. Most recently we have worked with the NHSE Learning Disability and Autism team to co-create training on ‘soft signs’ and communication which has been delivered to 8000 families and carers.

As there is increasing awareness of the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities, we feel that the WELDC is well placed to support new models of care and look forward to seeing the collaboration continue to evolve and contribute to better outcomes for people like Toby.

New e-learning module to support detection of early deterioration of patients with COVID-19

The West of England Academic Health Science Network has worked in partnership with other NHS organisations, Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare (HEE e-LfH), the Wessex Local Medical Committee and the TEL programme simulation and immersive technology team, to develop two free e-learning resources to support detection of early deterioration of patients with COVID-19.

The new COVID Oximetry @home and COVID Virtual Wards e-learning modules – launched in May 2021 –  aim to support the detection of early deterioration of patients with COVID-19 in primary and community care settings.

The e-learning provides an overview of pulse oximetry for patients and carers and explains how to monitor oxygen levels at home or in a care home setting.

People at high risk of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19 are being provided with a pulse oximeter to monitor the oxygen levels in their blood at home for up to 14 days. This includes people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and people living in care homes.

A pulse oximeter is a small medical device that is put on the tip of the finger. By regularly monitoring oxygen levels it can be easier to spot if COVID-19 symptoms are getting worse and whether people need treatment or support. People with COVID-19 may become very unwell if their oxygen levels fall too far.

The West of England AHSN is supporting the continued roll-out of ‘COVID Oximetry @home’  and ‘COVID virtual wards’ in our region. Our local support offer makes use of our existing expertise, infrastructure and resources.

Click here to find more information about COVID Oximetry @home and COVID virtual wards, including links to relevant resources and webinars.

Dr Alison Tavaré. Clinical Lead NHS@Home South West and West of England AHSN Primary Care Clinical Lead said:

“Many people with COVID-19 were living in residential homes and we realised that carers were being asked to monitor patients with little opportunity to have had any training; therefore this e-learning was co-developed by carers and clinicians. The aim is to provide a quick overview of COVID-19, how to use a pulse oximeter and most importantly give clear information on what to look out for and who to call if a carer is worried”.

This e-learning provides an overview of pulse oximetry for carers, including how to take the measurements and how to tell others if they are worried. It is designed to be used alongside the NHS pulse oximetry guidance.

More information, including access details, is available on the programme page.

By mid-May 2021, over 2000 patients had been supported through COVID Oximetry @ home and virtual ward models in the West of England. Read more about this collaborative programme, including the patient’s journey, here. 

Free care homes manager mental health awareness training continues

During January and February 2021, we trained 48 care home managers in mental health awareness. The free training was delivered virtually by Bristol Mind with 94% of care homes managers who completed our post-training survey telling us it was helpful in supporting them to address their biggest concern around their staff’s wellbeing.

We have reflected on the positive feedback from cohort one and are now launching cohort two with six sessions available between 28 April and 28 June.

Find out more and book your space on our upcoming free mental health awareness training for care homes managers.

“This was a breath of fresh air, people wanting to engage, and talk about common situations, and positive ways to reduce risk and stress in the future. I have not really been asked how I was coping thorough this pandemic, so was initially difficult to answer.”

Clare Evans, Deputy Director of Service and System Transformation said:

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has put extraordinary pressure on care staff and that many are struggling with the effects of the ongoing response. We know that care home managers and deputy managers care about their staff and may have already developed some initiatives to support their wellbeing. Our free training from Bristol Mind can expand and build up those initiatives and support managers and their teams.”

The online workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Looking after ourselves as managers and how we encourage others to do the same in the workplace
  • Starting a sensitive conversation about mental health and well-being
  • Recognising when self or employee getting overly stressed, anxious or low in mood
  • Coping with loss
  • Wellness action plans
  • Signposting to community based services for staff and the wider community

“Great to speak to other people going through the same situation, and who understand the reality of the situations faced on a daily basis”

This training is for managers and deputy managers. Please ensure only one booking per care home, thank you. If you are a manager in supported living or domiciliary care, please contact to discuss booking.

If you have any queries, or are experiencing any barriers that may prevent you from signing up, please do contact us at and we will try to help.

We are running a free programme of initiatives to support care homes in Bath, North East and North Somerset, Swindon, Wiltshire, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire. We are also offering free training on recognising deterioration in care settings through tools like RESTORE2 – find out more and book here.

Remote monitoring scheme reaches all eligible patients in England

With support from England’s 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives including here in the West of England, patients at risk from COVID-19 now have access to a national programme designed to provide an early-warning system if their condition worsens.

During the pandemic, reduced oxygen saturation levels have been shown to be a key identifier of deterioration in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. COVID Oximetry @home uses pulse oximeters for patients to safely self-monitor their condition at home, providing an opportunity to detect a decline in their condition that might require hospital review and admission.

The programme is managed by NHS England and NHS Improvement, in partnership with NHSX and NHS Digital.

From a starting point of 20% of Clinical Commissioning Groups in November 2020, 100% of CCGs had established a fully operational COVID Oximetry @home pathway by early February.

By mid-February 2021, over 1,600 patients had been supported through COVID Oximetry @ home and virtual ward models in the West of England. Read more about this collaborative programme, including the patient’s journey, here. 

Patient Safety Collaboratives (hosted by Academic Health Science Networks) supported this rapid spread by working closely with CCGs in their region to offer quality improvement expertise, access to training and resources, data collection and evaluation, and by facilitating a national learning network.

The COVID virtual ward model is a secondary-care-led initiative, using remote pulse oximetry monitoring to support early and safe discharge from hospital (step-down care) for COVID patients. 94% of acute trusts now have access to a COVID virtual ward, an increase of 69% since the beginning of the year.

Natasha Swinscoe, national patient safety lead for the AHSN Network and Chief Executive Officer of the West of England AHSN, said:

‘We have learned so much during this pandemic, and this impressive uptake in the use of pulse oximetry has undoubtedly saved lives. It has also allowed us to ensure, where appropriate, we can provide safe care for vulnerable people shielding at home through simple, remote monitoring.

‘I’m proud of the role Patient Safety Collaboratives have taken, providing support and assistance ‘on the ground’ to establish completely new ways of working in such a short space of time.’

This intensive PSC support to implement these pathways is due to wind down at the end of March 2021, with AHSNs continuing to support systems to embed @home models in the long-term.

Find out more about how we’re supporting our systems with COVID Oximetry @home and virtual wards. 

A year on since the start of the pandemic, Consultant Acute Physician, Matt Inada Kim, reflects on the simple device (a pulse oximeter) that has been a lifeline for thousands of COVID patients & transformed the way the NHS delivers care.

Read Matt’s blog here.

Moving forward with our diversity and inclusivity journey

The West of England AHSN is proud to announce diversity and cohesion specialists BCohCo, have been appointed to support our diversity and inclusion programme.

Following a successful tender process, BCohCo will be working across the AHSN to review how we ensure diversity, inclusion, cohesion and equality are embedded as core values across our organisation and work programmes. Innovation, quality improvement and collaboration will remain core commitments as we explore and progress on this journey.

This exciting next step builds on our existing equality, diversity and inclusivity commitments which include a series of Diversity Pledges agreed across the AHSN Network (which is made up of the 15 AHSNs across England, of which the West of England is one). We will now be working with BCohCo to co-develop an action plan setting out how we achieve these pledges.

To continue to celebrate the diversity of the region in which we live and work, and ensure inclusive work programmes that have equality as a core value, we also signed the Bristol Equality Charter in September 2020.

Chief Executive, and chair of the Diversity and Inclusivity Group, Natasha Swinscoe said:

“As an AHSN, we have a leadership role in championing and developing diversity within our NHS innovation pipeline, our organisation and across the West of England region. Our Diversity and Inclusivity Group, and the broader organisation, are committed to learning and making real progress on this important journey.

We look forward to working with BCohCo to ensure equality, diversity, cohesion and inclusivity is embedded in what we do, how we work together and the decisions we make”.

Katie Donovan-Adekanmbi, Inclusion and Cohesion Specialist from BCohCo Ltd said:

“‘Given the events of 2020 we have been left with a lot of questions about difference, fairness and belonging. By bringing BCohCo (Building Cohesive Communities) on board, the West of England AHSN have demonstrated their commitment to starting these conversations honestly, openly and authentically.

We look forward to working together, in these very unusual times”.