Major project reduces inpatient falls in hospitals and saves NHS £13m

A project to reduce the number of inpatient falls has saved the NHS more than £13 million with the team of researchers including an academic from Kingston University.

The framework for reducing inpatient falls was launched at Brighton and Sussex University Hospital (BSUH) in 2009, just months after a catastrophic fall on a ward that led to a patient dying.

Before joining Kingston University, Professor Karen Norman was a chief nurse in Gibraltar when she was approached to participate in this project and analyse its success.

In an interview with Kingston University, Professor Norman said: “When I came back to the United Kingdom and joined Kingston University, we were fortunate to secure a small research grant from the School of Nursing to develop our work.”

Some of the changes that the project proposed included considering lower beds for patients, ensuring patients wore non-slip footwear and accompanying patients to and from the toilet. It also ensured the call bell and their personal belonging were easy to reach and assessed any need for increased supervision of patients.

There has been a 46 per cent reduction in falls at the hospital which has saved the NHS millions of pounds due to the shorter lengths of hospital stay, reduction in imaging tests and certain medical procedures and fewer trips to theatre for surgery.

This has all added more efficiency as nurses use that time for other patients.

Professor Norman worked with Mark Renshaw and Deputy Chief nurse at Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust, Paula Tucker, former head of nursing at BSUH, to publish their findings in the British Journal of Nursing.

Some of the principles from the project have been transferred to protecting patients during the pandemic. In the interview with Kingston University, Professor Norman said: “I’ve been using their ideas in some of my other work, particularly around infection control with regards to Covid-19.”

The initial results proved impressive, with the rate of falls in eight wards falling by around a third within the first year, exceeding the target and leading to the project being rolled out across the Trust.

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