FICM response to Martha's Rule

Published 22/02/2024

The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine welcomes the the implementation of the first phase of Martha’s Rule, which will take place in April 2024 in 100 English pilot sites. Martha’s Rule requires patients and their families, carers, and advocates, as well as NHS staff, to have access to 24/7 rapid review from a critical care outreach team if they are worried about a person’s condition.

Martha’s mother, Merope Mills, has been a moving and articulate advocate for better safety netting for the deteriorating patient which the Faculty welcomes and supports.

We are aware of some anxieties amongst the critical care community regarding the announcement; supporting the rule in principle sits alongside genuine concerns around the lack of detail of the specifics of implementation within the context of a very tight NHS budgetary envelope.

We know that significant investment is required to develop outreach services more widely and more detailed exploration of how critical care outreach services designed for and working mostly with adults can support a safe system for children in some hospitals.

There has been an historical under-provision of trained doctors in critical care, and this needs to be addressed with increased funding.

The Faculty has been liaising with NHSE, the Patient Safety Commissioner and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the detail. We intend to move forward constructively to achieve what we all want to see, which is better patient care across all hospitals.