The NHS has today announced funding for hospitals in England to enable them to introduce Martha’s rule.

Starting in April, hospitals will be able to apply for funding to make the ‘right to a second medical opinion’ a reality.

This welcome news follows a years long campaign by the family of Martha Mills, who died of sepsis at the age of 13 after her symptoms were missed.

Who was Martha Mills?

Martha was 13 when she had an accident while cycling. She had injured her pancreas and was admitted to Kings College Hospital, a leading hospital for children with pancreas injuries.

Although her condition wasn’t life-threatening at the time of her admission, she developed sepsis and her condition worsened. Martha’s parents raised their concerns with doctors treating Martha, but these were ignored.

Martha died just days later.

What is Martha’s rule?

All patients, their families, carers and advocates must have access to a 24/7 rapid review from a critical care outreach team, which they can contact via mechanisms advertised around the hospital and more widely if they are worried about the patient’s condition.

In essence, it provides assurance that a second medical opinion can be obtained where a patient’s condition is a cause for concern.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a medical emergency but with a timely diagnosis and efficient treatment lives and limbs can be saved.  Unfortunately, more than 14,000 deaths and many more permanent life-changing injuries in the UK would be avoided each year if there was increased awareness of the condition.

Martha’s family pleased

Merope Mills and Paul Laity, Martha’s parents, said: “We are pleased that the implementation of Martha’s Rule will begin in April. We want it to be in place as quickly and as widely as possible, to prevent what happened to our daughter from happening to other patients in hospital.

“We believe Martha’s rule will save lives. In cases of deterioration, families and carers by the bedside can be aware of changes busy clinicians can’t; their knowledge should be recognised as a resource. We also look to Martha’s Rule to alter medical culture: to give patients a little more power, to encourage listening on the part of medical professionals, and to normalise the idea that even the grandest of doctors should welcome being challenged.”

How we can help

Early treatment of sepsis can significantly reduce the risk of death and complications. If you have lost a loved one or suffered long-term injury due to sepsis that was not diagnosed or treated swiftly then you may be able to pursue a claim for damages.

Damages will provide financial support for you or your family through a difficult period of time. Where you have long-term health issues, compensation helps you reach the best recovery possible and provides support for you in the future.

We have a specialist sepsis team who have successfully acted for many families. They can carefully review the sequence of events and your medical records and advise you on pursuing a claim for damages.

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