How South Tyneside Hospital is helping keep people safe from falls

Consultant Geriatrician and Falls Lead Dr Suba Thirugnanasothy, right, with falls specialist nurse Catherine Peel
Consultant Geriatrician and Falls Lead Dr Suba Thirugnanasothy, right, with falls specialist nurse Catherine Peel

All patients over the age of 65 at South Tyneside District Hospital are to be assessed for their risk of falling within 48 hours of admission.

The move is part of ongoing quality improvement work to reduce the rate of falls.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trusts Medical Director Dr Shaz Wahid

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trusts Medical Director Dr Shaz Wahid

A 53% reduction in falls leading to patient harm was recorded at South Tyneside District Hospital, in Harton Lane, South Shields, in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

Only last week, the hospital’s success in reducing inpatient falls was highlighted in a national NHS Improvement report*.

From Tuesday, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust will roll out a new ‘falls prevention assessment and individualised care plan’ for every patient aged 65 and over who is admitted to hospital, to ensure all staff are aware of their specific risks of a fall.

Falls in hospital are the most commonly reported patient safety incident in the NHS.

Some result in serious injuries, such as hip fracture and head injuries, which can result in death. Minor injuries from a fall can affect a patient’s physical function, resulting in reduced mobility and undermining their confidence and independence.

Consultant Geriatrician Dr Suba Thirugnanasothy, who is South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s falls lead, said: “Throughout our hospital we care for many frail, older people who are generally at higher risk of a fall and this new initiative will, without doubt, help support our staff to further improve on the great strides we have already made to reduce falls.

The new risk assessment covers delirium, continence, mobility, vision, lying and standing blood pressure checks and medication.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s Medical Director Dr Shaz Wahid said: “Improving patient safety and outcomes is our constant aim and the success we have had so far in reducing inpatient falls is very encouraging.

“We are determined to improve even further and the new rigorous assessment and related interventions will help us to do that.”