Martha's Rule which gives worried patients right to second opinion to be trialled at 143 hospitals

An escalation process that allows patients to demand a second opinion if they think their condition, or that of a loved one, is deteriorating but their concerns are being ignored, will be trialled at 143 hospitals in its first year, NHS England has said.

Martha's Rule is named after teenager Martha Mills, who contracted sepsis from a pancreatic injury following a fall from her bike while under the care of King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London, and died in 2021.

The 13-year-old's parents, Merope Mills and Paul Laity, raised concerns about their daughter's health a number of times but these were brushed aside.

Several opportunities were missed to refer her to intensive care and she would most likely have lived if she had been referred earlier, a coroner ruled.

At one point, Martha began to bleed heavily through a tube inserted into her arm and through a drainage tube, and she also developed a rash.

Her mother voiced concerns to staff that her daughter would go into septic shock over the bank holiday weekend.

One of the trust's own intensive care doctors told the inquest he would "100%" have admitted her if he had seen her.

The trust - a specialist referral centre for children with pancreatic problems - has previously apologised.

Martha's Rule will only work if it's properly resourced - opinion

From March, anyone with similar doubts can order a second opinion from a critical care outreach team at any time, via an internal phone number advertised on posters and leaflets throughout the 143 hospital sites.

There are 229 hospital trusts in England, including 154 foundation trusts.

In the wake of Martha's death, her parents campaigned extensively for a single system that would allow families to trigger an urgent clinical review from a different team in the hospital.

Welcoming the news on Monday, Martha's parents said the rule would "save lives".

"We are pleased that the rollout of Martha's rule is off to a flying start and that the need for it has been so widely recognised," they said.

"It will save lives and encourage better, more open communication on hospital wards, so that patients feel they are listened to, and partners in their healthcare."

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Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said it was a "significant" policy with a far-reaching impact.

He said: "Rolling out Martha's rule to over 143 NHS sites in this first phase will represent one of the most important changes to patient care in recent years and we are pleased to have seen such interest from hospitals right across the country, all thanks to the moving and dedicated campaigning by Martha's parents, Merope and Paul."