New tool for spotting deterioration in children released for roll out in England

Paediatricians and other child health professionals based in England can now start transitioning towards using the new inpatient Paediatric Early Warning System (PEWS) chart which has been released by NHS England for use today.
Icon of megaphone with sound waves

This is part of the System-wide Paediatric Observations Tracking (SPOT) programme, led by NHS England in collaboration and endorsement from the RCPCH and the Royal College of Nursing.

The ultimate aim of the PEWS is to support better health outcomes and ensure deterioration and acute illnesses in Children and Young People (CYP) is escalated and responded upon effectively and quickly. It does this by creating a ‘common language’, and a standardised early warning system, for spotting deterioration in children in health settings. Building upon a programme of research and clinical piloting, SPOT is developing standardised tools and e-learning for using national PEWS charts in a range of health settings.

The National PEWS chart launched on 3 November 2023 is for use in hospital inpatient wards. The ambition is that the National PEWS chart will eventually become the standard of care in England, this will mean that all medical and nursing students will receive instruction on its use during their training.

At present, paediatricians are encouraged to look at PEWS and consider the steps needed for implementation in their own areas of practice. While the National PEWS chart will not as yet be mandated, a Community of Practice has been set up to support areas to embed and implement PEWS, supported by e-learning resources. In 2023/24 Trusts are expected to appoint an Education/Implementation lead who will begin to support their Trust to roll out the national PEWS.

Further information about the programme, key background and FAQs for roll out can be found on our website. This will be a live webpage and we will update it with further information as this becomes available. You can also view our webinar from RCPCH conference 2023, and we will look to providing more materials in time.

In response to the release of PEWS, Dr Mike Mckean, VP for Policy, RCPCH said:

The National PEWS chart is an extremely important new tool that will support all paediatricians and wider child health teams to spot deterioration in children in hospital. Alongside training and resources, it will help teams across the country improve patient safety, efficacy and quality of care.

The SPOT programme builds on systems already in place in many trusts and has the many advantages of becoming a national system. I’d strongly encourage all paediatricians to look at the chart and consider what they need to do to smoothly transition towards integration and embedding the National PEWS into their trusts.