NHS England and NHS Improvement have endorsed a single early warning score – the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) – for use in acute and ambulance settings.
NEWS is a tool developed by the Royal College of Physicians which improves the detection and response to clinical deterioration in adult patients and is a key element of patient safety and improving patient outcomes.
Since its initial launch in 2012, NEWS has seen widespread uptake across the NHS. At present around 70% of acute trusts in England are using NEWS, with other Early Warning Scores in place in other areas. The confusion caused by the current variation in practice can compromise patient safety, something that would be eliminated by use of a common tool. With this in mind, NHS England, with the support of NHS Improvement are endorsing NEWS, and are launching an ambition to increase its use to 100% of acute and ambulance settings by March 2019.
Through standardisation of NEWS we can reduce the number of patients whose conditions deteriorate whilst in hospital, and potentially save over 1800 lives a year.
NHS England have set up a Cross-System Working Group that will work to increase the uptake of NEWS and ensure its standardised implementation. With representation from: NICE, CQC, AHSNs, clinicians and academics the group will seek to:
- Implement the national ambition to increase the uptake of NEWS
- Develop and oversee a work programme to ensure all NEWS-related activity is consistent with the national ambition and identify any barriers to standardised uptake.
In December 2017, an updated version of NEWS, NEWS2 was published.