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Martha's Rule rolled out

NHS England has announced the rollout of ‘Martha’s Rule’ in hospitals across England from April, enabling patients and families to seek an urgent review if their condition deteriorates.

The patient safety initiative, known as ‘Martha’s Rule’, is set to be rolled out to at least 100 NHS sites from April. It will give patients and their families round-the-clock access to a rapid review from an independent critical care team if they are worried about their or a loved one’s condition. 

This escalation process will be available 24/7 to patients, families and NHS staff, and will be advertised throughout hospitals, making it quickly and easily accessible.

Evaluation of the initial roll-out from at least 100 trust sites during 2024/25 will inform proposals for 'Martha’s Rule' to be expanded further across all acute hospitals, subject to government funding.

NHS teams will also identify ways to roll out an adapted 'Martha’s Rule' model across other settings, including community and mental health hospitals, where the processes may not apply in the same way.

Healthwatch England has supported the implementation of 'Martha's Rule'. 

Responding to the announcement, our CEO Louise Ansari said: 

“The news that Martha's rule will be implemented in NHS hospitals is hugely welcome.

"Patients can already request second opinions on their treatment, and most doctors respect these requests. However, the new rule will help shift the balance of power from medical discretion towards the patient or their family, who will be able to trigger a second opinion directly. 

If implemented correctly, with clear communications to raise awareness about people’s rights, the introduction of Martha's Rule will help to reassure patients and their families and save more lives in future.”

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