THE Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is in line for a prestigious national award for its work to promote the highest standards of patient safety and care.

The Trust has been shortlisted four separate times for the Patient Safety and Care Awards 2014, led by flagship publications Nursing Times and the Health Service Journal.

The Trust’s project to reduce the number of cardiac arrests on wards at North Devon District Hospital has been shortlisted in three categories – Education and Training, Changing Culture and Clinical Leadership.

The entry, entitled “Creating a CAFÉ culture – moving towards a Cardiac Arrest Free Environment”, relates to the ongoing impact of the Obs? No Probs campaign.

The campaign, led by the Trust’s patient safety and resuscitation teams with close input from senior clinicians, was launched in 2011 to improve processes and increase staff knowledge, skills and confidence in recognising deterioration at ward level.

Learning from the real-life stories of three patients whose experience fell short of the Trust’s high expectations, the teams developed a training and awareness programme for all clinical staff based on five key areas.

These focused on tightening up procedures around measuring and recording vital signs, ‘early warning scores’ and fluid balance, communicating important information to colleagues, undertaking timely reviews and creating clear action plans.

The campaign has led to a significant reduction in the number of cardiac arrests across the Trust, while the knowledge and awareness of staff has increased substantially.

In February 2011, 14 patients suffered cardiac arrests. In January 2014, the number was zero.

The Trust has also had a second entry shortlisted in the Education and Training category of the awards, based on its mandatory patient safety workshops for frontline nursing, therapy and support staff.

The training workshops, led by Trust’s patient safety and workforce development teams, are known as the Essential Patient Safety Review (EPSR).

Staff from acute, community and specialist settings come together to explore serious incidents that have happened within the Trust and complete a case study review in small groups.

Each group ‘owns’ the case study for the day and examines what went wrong, where good practice was demonstrated and what could be done to prevent a similar incident happening again, before presenting the findings and an action plan to an expert panel comprising the Trust’s most senior nursing staff.

The training has helped to dramatically reduce the number of cardiac arrests, pressure ulcers and other conditions among patients, while staff feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Kevin Marsh, the Trust’s director of nursing, said: “Patient safety and quality of care are always our main priorities, so to be recognised nationally for our excellent work in these areas is great news.

“I am very proud of all the teams and the fact we have been shortlisted four times for such a prestigious award is testament to their hard work and dedication to providing safe, high-quality care for our patients every time.

“Much of our patient safety training is based on learning from experience and this result is proof that what we are doing is highly effective and is making a very real difference to our patients.”

The awards attracted more than 600 applications and the Trust will present its entries to the judging panel in London on 11 and 12 June.

The Trust will find out if it has won at the awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Tuesday 15 July.