Hope for NHS patients: “Martha’s rule” to be introduced, following 13-year old’s death

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Martha’s rule

In 2021, Martha Mills had been on holiday with her parents, when she had an accident riding her bike, falling onto the handlebars and injuring her pancreas. She was admitted to King’s College Hospital but the 13 year old later developed sepsis and tragically passed away.

An inquest subsequently found that “Martha was not referred to the paediatric intensivists promptly. If she had been referred promptly and had been appropriately treated, the likelihood is that she would have survived her injuries”.

As a result of this tragedy, Martha’s parents have campaigned tirelessly for “Martha’s Rule”- a rule which gives parents, carers, and patients, the right to request an urgent second opinion from a dedicated team of clinicians at the same hospital if they have concerns about the care they are receiving.

The government has now backed plans to roll out Martha’s Rule across the country, purporting to give patients easy access to a second opinion if their condition worsens. Initially, at least 100 Hospitals will be able to apply to participate in this scheme and participating hospitals will receive additional government funding for posters and leaflets informing patients and their families of the right to request a “rapid review” of treatment. The reviews will be carried out by the Critical Care Outreach Team which will consist of a senior doctor or nurse elsewhere in the same hospital, who specialise in the care of patients who are deteriorating.

“Martha’s rule” will be rolled out from April this year.

Mark Stafford-White, Medical Negligence solicitor at Ellisons, states:

“Martha’s Rule is a crucial initiative in promoting patient empowerment by allowing them to seek a second opinion if they are not happy with the level of care or escalation that they are receiving. However, the success of the scheme hinges on ensuring adequate clinical capacity to conduct timely reviews and prioritising those patients most at risk. Without sufficient resources, delays could still undermine its effectiveness and potentially compromise outcomes for patients.”

If you are seeking advice or representation from experienced personal injury or medical negligence lawyers call Ellisons on 01206 764477 for an initial appointment or contact our Injury Services Team here.

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