From 2014 to 2017, the Oxford AHSN Children’s Clinical Network worked with partners on a number of initiatives designed to reduce inequity and improve children’s healthcare across the Oxford AHSN region. Our legacy is in establishing a model that is sustainable for the future, with clinicians and others involved in children’s health working together across the region to continually advance children’s health outcomes.
A core tenet of the Children’s Network was reducing variation in children’s outcomes across the region. We produced three Variation Reports. These reports, covering a range of common childhood conditions, have engendered considerable interest and engagement with NHS providers and commissioners and led to a number of locally-driven initiatives designed to reduce children’s hospital attendances and admissions.
Consultant paediatricians from five hospitals in the region meet regularly to share clinical guidelines and other best practice pathways from each hospital. We audited and reported on adherence to clinical pathways for three conditions and produced an e-learning module on the hospital management of paediatric pneumonia.
The Children’s Network contributed to improving uptake of the children’s flu vaccine across the region through interventions led by its network nurses. This included working with, and training for, practice and school nurses and health visitors, establishing widely acclaimed flu pages on our website, writing best practice tips which have been incorporated in national NHS/PHE guidance and, more recently, collaborating with Milton Keynes University Hospital to establish a unique service offering the flu vaccine to children attending outpatient appointments. Support for the flu vaccine programme will continue through the Oxford Vaccine Group and the Vaccine Knowledge Project.
Working with colleagues in paediatrics, microbiology and pharmacy, the Children’s Network obtained agreement for a common paediatric antibiotic prescribing guideline in six hospitals across the region. Harmonising these prescribing guidelines will help reduce the build-up of antibiotic resistance and the initiative is being shared with other hospitals across England. This is an example of what can be achieved when teams of clinicians come together to initiate major change in the way we work.
The Children’s Network supported the testing and adoption of two innovations. As part of the ‘Getting guidelines closer to the bedside’ initiative, a smartphone app hosting clinical guidelines was introduced into one trust with the Network’s support. The network also trialled a point-of-care testing device which has potential to improve both patient flow and the earlier treatment of children identified as potentially infectious.
We also supported the spread of paediatric research across all hospitals in the region, ensuring research nurses are appointed – leaving a lasting legacy of programmes of paediatric research in every trust.