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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > New patient safety programme at North Cumbria's hospitals

New patient safety programme at North Cumbria's hospitals

Posted on Wednesday 11th July 2012
gill long

Gill Long, Productive Ward Co-ordinator

A new national NHS initiative has been introduced at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven to ensure patients are ‘protected from harm’ whilst in hospital.

Over the past year, over 100 NHS organisations have tested the Harm Free Care programme in order to reduce harm from pressure ulcers, falls, urinary catheter infections and blood clots. The programme’s key message is ‘think about complications from a patient’s perspective and aim for the absence of all four potential ‘harms’ to each and every patient.’

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is now measuring Harm Free Care on one day per month on all wards at both hospitals using the NHS Safety Thermometer. The Thermometer allows nursing teams to measure harm and the proportion of patients who are ‘harm free’. Staff input data into the Thermometer on a computer and this allows them to record and monitor any ‘harms’ occurring on wards.

Gill Long, Productive Ward Co-ordinator who is leading the Harm Free Care programme, said: “The Harm Free Care Programme is a great opportunity for ward teams to focus on patient safety and build on work already implemented to reduce falls, pressure ulcers, urinary infections associated with catheters and blood clots ultimately improving the experience of our patients.”

Methods to prevent the four potential harms have been identified as follows:


  • Is the patient’s footwear suitable?
  • Are the patient’s glasses/drink/other belongings within easy reach?
  • Can the patient call a nurse easily in order to get help going to the bathroom?
  • Does the patient’s medication make them unsteady on their feet?
  •  Is the patient’s walking aid appropriate and close to hand?

Blood clots

  • Has the patient been risk assessed and prescribed a VTE prophylaxis? Has this been explained?
  • Has the patient’s condition changed?
  • Has the patient been re-assessed within 24 hours of admission?
  • Is the patient’s VTE prophylaxis plan clear in their discharge/handover notes?

Pressure ulcers

  • Has the patient been risk assessed?
  • Is the patient well nourished and had the right amount of fluids?
  • Is the patient’s skin clean and dry? Is there any redness?
  • Does the patient have a repositioning regime?
  • Does the patient need pressure relieving/reducing equipment such as an airbed, foam bed, bed or chair protector?

Urinary catheter infections

  • Does the patient really need a catheter?
  • Are others treating the patient aware they have a catheter?
  • When does the patient’s catheter need changing?
  • Has it been explained to the patient how to look after their catheter?
  • Has the Aseptic Non Touch Technique been used when caring for the patient’s catheter?

All patients are being informed about the new initiative via a patient information leaflet.

For more information, please visit