The atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS) Clinical Nurse Specialists – who lead the National aHUS nursing service from the RVI in Newcastle – were named Winners for the Patient Safety Improvement Nursing Times Award at a very special ceremony held in London on Wednesday 25 October 2023.
This much coveted award recognises their life-changing initiative ‘A Collaborative model of meningococcal vaccination response monitoring for patients receiving complement inhibition‘ which seeks to enhance effective monitoring to help prevent potentially life-threatening infections caused by a known side effect of the lifesaving treatment patients with the rare disease aHUS receive.
The intention of the initiative – designed, led, implemented, and audited by the aHUS nurses – was to improve the percentage of patients undergoing an annual blood test to measure protection against meningitis.
They established new collaborative pathways whereby a blood sample for titres could be taken alongside the patient’s infusion at home which has significantly increased uptake and as a consequence improved patient safety nation-wide.
We are passionate about sharing our experience, highlighting the power of collaborative working in clinical practice, and suggested to them that this could be used in many aspects of developing clinical services to the benefit of patients.Christine Maville and Gemma Allen, aHUS Clinical Nurse Specialists
On winning the award aHUS specialist nurse Christine Maville said “We know that our patients with aHUS on treatment are at significantly increased risk of contracting meningococcal infection, and recognised that the previous practice of monitoring meningococcal antibodies for our patients located across England and Scotland yielded a low uptake of monitoring bloods.
“With this in mind, we were very keen to totally re-think the model in order to make sure our patients had the monitoring tests they needed, and any meningococcal boosters needed to decrease their chances of contracting meningococcal infections which can be life-threatening.
“Working collaboratively with all of the stakeholders allowed us to create this new model of monitoring, which has led to significantly improved uptake of monitoring blood tests and subsequent boosters.”
Sharing the power of collaborative working in clinical practice
Colleague Gemma Allen continued “Now that we have proved this model is effective, we have used it to monitor other aspects of our patients’ care where bloods need to be tested in Newcastle – the results of which can influence that patient’s particular care.
“We were inspired to share this patient safety innovation with the Nursing Times Awards 2023, as we believe the innovation could be adopted by other teams who look after patients who are geographically located – all with the end result of enhancing patient safety and care. We saw this as an opportunity to disseminate this information to other nurses working in similar services to ours.
“Working with all stakeholders inside and outside of the NHS to achieve a success for patients has reinforced the need to work collaboratively.”
Professor David Kavanagh said “Winning this highly prestigious award for patient safety highlights the transformative effect our team of specialist aHUS nurses have had in preventing death from meningococcal sepsis in our patients.
Their revolutionary solution is acting as an exemplar to all highly specialized services.Professor David Kavanagh, Professor of Complement Therapeutics and Honorary Consultant Nephrologist
“The Nursing Times Patient Safety Improvement award is due recognition of their unstinting hard work, innovative thinking and dedication to improving the care of patients with aHUS.
“Everybody at the NRCTC is very proud of Christine, Gemma and Claire’s achievement.”
The Nursing Times Awards judges said “the Newcastle atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS) service clearly described how current approaches to effective monitoring did not work for this rare disease in a complex health landscape.
“The team recognised a gap in local management and put in place a new national collaborative pathway involving patients, multiagency partners including health, home care providers, independent sector, and pharma to reduce risk which has significantly improved patient safety.”
aHUS is an extremely rare disease with an incidence in the UK of only 0.4-0.5 per million population. It is caused by a fault in the complement system – part of the body’s immune system which acts as our first line of defence against infections.
The National aHUS Service in Newcastle was commissioned by NHS England in May 2016 to diagnose and co-ordinate the management of patients with aHUS.
You can read more about the team’s award winning Collaborative model of meningococcal vaccination response monitoring for patients receiving complement inhibition initiative here.
You can also find more information about the National aHUS service on their website: http://www.atypicalhus.co.uk