Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Martha’s Rule will ‘significantly improve outcomes’ for people with a learning disability

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard has announced that ‘Martha’s Rule’ will be rolled out in NHS hospitals across England.

Martha’s Rule allows patients and their families to seek an urgent review and get a second opinion on a patient’s care if their condition deteriorates.

The initiative is set to be rolled out to at least 100 NHS sites and will allow patients and their families to access a 24/7 escalation process.

Announcing the rollout, Ms Pritchard said access to a rapid clinical review will help to ensure those experiencing acute deterioration can be “identified and treated much more quickly.”

Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at Mencap says the initiative will “significantly improve outcomes” for people with a learning disability.

Martha’s Rule to be rolled out in April

The creation of Martha’s Rule came after Martha Mills, 13, died after King’s College Hospital failed to escalate her to intensive care.

Martha injured her pancreas in a cycling accident. Her injury was serious, but survivable if the right care had been in place. Martha died just days later of sepsis while under the hospital’s care.

Martha’s parents, Merope and Paul, have been campaigning for the introduction of Martha’s Rule ever since. They say they raised concerns about Martha’s deteriorating condition, but these were not responded to promptly.

Merope and Paul said they are pleased the implementation will begin in April, and they want it to happen “as quickly and as widely” as possible.

“We believe Martha’s Rule will save lives. In cases of deterioration, families and carers by the bedside can be aware of changes busy clinicians can’t; their knowledge should be recognised as a resource.

“We also look to Martha’s Rule to alter medical culture: to give patients a little more power, to encourage listening on the part of medical professionals, and to normalise the idea that even the grandest of doctors should welcome being challenged.

“We call on all NHS clinicians to back the initiative: we know that the large majority do listen, are open with patients and never complacent – but Martha’s doctors worked in a different culture, so some situations need to change,” they said.

Families have ‘unique knowledge’ which can be missed by medical staff

Learning disability charities are now hopeful that the initiative will improve outcomes for people with a learning disability, who are 42% more likely to die avoidably than the general population.

Mr Scorer said: “Families tell us how their unique knowledge of their loved one with a learning disability is all too often ignored by medical staff, and key opportunities missed to diagnose and treat serious illness, with devastating consequences.

“Martha’s Rule will support families and carers to get a vital second opinion, that could in turn, save lives.”

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More