The Trigger and Response Team (TaRT) will now be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The team, who provide clinical assistance to staff with concerns about acutely unwell patients, were previously only available from 8am – 10pm, but with the addition of four new members, they can now provide a round-the-clock service.
Ian Edwards, matron for resuscitation, training, trigger response and hospital at night, said: “When the TaRT team was implemented seven years ago, the out of hours cover was placed in the hands of the site team. They already had their own demanding role and have been holding the bleep at night ever since.
“If you called, you had to rely on them not having one of another dozen jobs to do because they are so busy managing the hospital.
“Now if someone calls us, they will get one of our dedicated team coming to see the patient. The medical on-call doctors are strain, so the more hands they have to help, the better their working conditions and the patient experience will be.
“The patients and staff should have a more expedited response at night. We can offer more continuity of care to the patients because, nationwide, patients don’t get the same care out of hours that they get in hours.
“We’ve always known there’s been a two-tier service and that’s what this process is trying to improve – to make sure that patients are as safe out of hours as they are in the day.”
Every member of ten-strong team has their own specialism and juggle trigger response and resuscitation training. Ian talked about the qualities required by a TaRT member.
“Acute clinical experience is a must. You need the experience to lean back on because there’s a plethora of different things you might be dealing with. There’s a lot of autonomy placed on the individuals in this department. They’re going to be making pretty advanced decisions based on the care and implementation of treatment for patients.
“You’re dealing with staff at every level and you’ve got to be able to deal with conflict between individuals if they disagree over patient care. We need to have those interpersonal skills to do what’s right for the patient.
“If there are any obvious interventions needed we can commence those but ultimately it’s about talking to the clinicians in charge of that patient’s care and making sure they put an adequate plan of care in place.
“You’re not going to stop sick patients in hospital. What we want to know is, are they all being treated appropriately and have they all got plans of care in place? We try to prevent acute deterioration and facilitate appropriate treatment. We’re not there to take over, we complement existing services.”
Consultant James Orpin, clinical lead for deteriorating patients, was enthusiastic about the impact the expanded TaRT service would have: “There has been a lot of coverage recently about out of hours services. By extending the availability of the TaRT team, this will lead to a better experience for patients overnight and at weekends.”