New GIRFT guidance to help trusts improve the care of COVID-19 patients

Best practice guidance to help hospital staff and managers improve the care of COVID-19 patients has been issued to trusts by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) team.

Based on the experiences of hospital trusts that performed well during the early phase of the pandemic, the guidance shares successful innovations and practices which others can utilise and adopt.

Drawing on the GIRFT programme’s data-driven methodology and the wealth of experience of its national clinical leads, the advice covers infection prevention and control, emergency medicine, critical care, anaesthesia, acute and general medicine, respiratory medicine, diabetes care, and geriatric medicine and community care, as well as looking at cross-cutting themes such as trust leadership and management, research and clinical coding.

The guide – Clinical practice guide for improving the management of adult COVID-19 patients in secondary care – is reviewed and endorsed by 12 key professional societies*.

Professor Tim Briggs, Chair of the GIRFT programme and National Director of Clinical Improvement for the NHS, said: “During the first COVID-19 wave NHS trusts learnt quickly on how to improve outcomes for their patients, in what were uniquely challenging circumstances. Trusts did exceptionally well, changing practice when the evidence became available, resulting in a reducing mortality rate even when admissions remained high.

“Now, in the midst of another wave and with winter adding further demands on NHS trusts, it is important that we share best practice to help meet this unique challenge and utilise the learning and experiences of others.”

Following the first wave of the pandemic, the GIRFT programme sought to understand the national picture for COVID-19 care and mortality through the analysis of national hospital datasets. This data review identified only limited variation between trusts at the height of the first wave. However, there were several trusts which performed particularly well during the pandemic, and six were invited to take part in cross-specialty virtual deep dives in September and October.

The resulting guidance summarises the challenges faced and identifies key strategies adopted by trusts.

GIRFT clinical fellow Annakan Navaratnam, who led the project, said: “This is by no means an exhaustive catalogue of all successful interventions in COVID-19 patient treatment but we hope the insight provided by the range of trusts who experienced high activity in the early phase of the pandemic provides a valuable resource to clinicians as further outbreaks of COVID-19 cases emerge.”

The guidance is available to download here.

*The guidance is endorsed by:

  • The Association of British Clinical Diabetologists
  • British Geriatrics Society
  • British Thoracic Society
  • Diabetes UK
  • Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine
  • Intensive Care Society
  • Royal College of Anaesthetists
  • Royal College of Emergency Medicine
  • Royal College of Pathologists
  • Royal College of Physicians
  • Royal College of Surgeons
  • Society for Acute Medicine

6 January 2021