The College reflects on Martha’s Rule

We were deeply saddened to read the circumstances around Martha’s death and our condolences are with her family.
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Martha’s Rule includes three recommendations for health services and the regulator to consider to support the right to request a clinical review. It includes further recommendations around access to patient notes, provision of a named consultant and a review of medical training to improve non-technical skills. 

As a Royal College, we are unable to comment on individual cases that identify individuals, families or members. However, in our role of setting the training curriculum, and improving professional standards, research and policy, we also host a patient safety portal that explores patient safety theory, learnings about the NHS patient safety syllabus, and ideas for quality improvement and access summaries of the latest alerts and reports. 

We support early recognition systems as important tools for child health professionals to recognise deterioration and are partnering with NHS England and the Royal College of Nursing to develop a single national Paediatric Early Warning System (PEWS) in England. The new inpatient PEWS which will be launched this Autumn includes a trigger to enable parents to share concerns and have these factored into the system. 

The College’s GMC approved curriculum ‘Progress+’ explicitly includes the need to demonstrate learning outcomes covering patient safety principles, team working and communication with children, young people and their families, including listening skills. At core level, trainees must demonstrate that they can develop effective professional relationships with children, young people and their families as well as colleagues, enabling active participation in planning and implementation of care plans.

We have published resources for healthcare professionals, service planners and families of children with complex medical needs to draw upon when requesting, providing and receiving an external second opinion. One of the key principles of the work is to listen to the views of children and their families by having transparent processes, using clear and honest communication and seeing the child and their family as an expert in their experience of care.