Life-saving quality improvement project in running for two national awards 

The team behind a project to prevent hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) is now in the running for two national awards. 

Needlessly lengthy hospital stays, increased disease burden, and even death is linked to HAP and cases at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals were nearly three times the national average. 

The project team, led by a multi-disciplinary team of support staff, healthcare assistants, allied health professionals, nurses, advanced clinical practitioners, and consultants, designed a simple HAP prevention bundle that drew on the best available evidence. 

Known as COUGH (encourage to Cough and deep breathe, Oral care, patient/relative Understanding, Get up and moving, Head of bed elevation), the bundle focusses on going “back to basics” with patient mouth care, mobility, and positioning being the priority. 

The initial aim was to reduce incidence of HAP on a respiratory ward by 30% in six months but, so effective was the approach, cases fell by 85%. That’s the equivalent of 10 fewer deaths from HAP and more than £500,000 saved in additional care costs on a single ward. 

A healthcare assistant told the team: “I didn’t realise how much of an impact oral care had on patient safety. Spending five minutes brushing a patient’s teeth has saved me more time overall as patients aren’t deteriorating as often.” 

A staff nurse said: “It gave me permission to go back to the nursing care I enjoy and which we know has the biggest impact on patient safety.” 

Patients also reported greater satisfaction with their care. 

“News of our success generated a groundswell of interest from other wards and disciplines wanting to adopt our approach,” said Jessica Murphy, Quality Improvement Programme Manager. The team’s work was also presented at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare in Gothenburg, Sweden last year. 

The project has been shortlisted in the Patient Safety Award category of the 2023 HSJ Awards, the UK’s leading awards for healthcare, and the Pilot Project of the Year category in the HSJ Patient Safety Awards. 

Two other Trust projects have also been shortlisted in the HSJ awards. “Reducing pressure ulcer through proactive working” in the Patient Safety Category and the HIDVA (health independent domestic violence advisors) and HISVA (independent sexual violence advisors) team in the Provider Collaboration of the Year category. 

A record-breaking 1,456 entries were received this year with 223 projects and individuals reaching the final shortlist. The awards will be held in London on 16 November. 


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