Critical Care Outreach Team

A specialist critical care outreach team has been set up to support clinical staff in managing acutely ill patients in hospital in a major drive to improve outcomes for all ill patients in South Tees.

It’s hoped the new service will improve patient safety – and reduce unexpected deaths – by providing a higher vigilance of ‘at risk’ patients, for example patients who are seriously ill and who are managed in the ward environment.

This would be achieved through earlier detection of patients’ whose condition is deteriorating, so that staff can immediately respond and deliver the most appropriate treatment.

By recognising and treating patients who are very sick earlier in their illness, this may reduce the numbers of patients who subsequently may need critical care (such as intensive or high dependency care) or help their earlier admission, and may improve the outcome for sick patients in hospital.

A key function of the team, which consists of nurses and doctors with critical care skills, will be to support ward staff in caring for patients recovering from critical illness following a stay in intensive care.

The service will be provided day and night in The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, and seven days a week in the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.

Another important role for the team is providing training and education for clinical staff during ward rounds and on-call visits to areas so their assessment skills and clinical-decision making is enhanced. A rolling educational programme is also being continued to give healthcare professionals the knowledge and skills required to identify critically ill patients.

Anticipated benefits of the outreach service include:

  • Increased appropriateness and timeliness of intervention for patients leading to better patient outcomes
  • Reduction in cardiac arrest calls
  • Reduction in clinical risks.
  • Better use of critical care facilities

Nurse consultant Lindsay Garcia said: “Our ability to recognise, react and treat patients whose condition suddenly deteriorates is a key patient safety priority for us. Patients who come into hospital want to feel safe and cared for and comforted in the knowledge they’re in the best place for prompt and effective treatment if they do become very ill, very quickly.

“We’re already doing a lot of work in this important area – it’s one of our priorities in the trust’s 2013/2014 quality account – and this service will enhance our work in avoiding harm and clinical risk to patients, hopefully improving their overall outcomes.”

The team has been supported and funded by NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group.