National Early Warning Score (NEWS)

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has led the development of a new National Early Warning Score (NEWS) report, which advocates standardising the use of a NEWS system across the NHS in order to drive the ‘step change’ required in the assessment and response to acute illness. 

Key recommendations

The report, prepared by a working party convened by the Royal College of Physicians’ Acute Medicine Task Force, recommends that: 

  • NEWS should be used when patients present acutely to hospital and also in the prehospital assessment ie by primary care and the ambulance services.
  • The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has led the development of a new National Early Warning Score (NEWS) report, which advocates standardising the use of a NEWS system across the NHS in order to drive the ‘step change’ required in the assessment and response to acute illness. 
  • NEWS could also be adopted as a surveillance system for all patients in hospitals for tracking their clinical condition, alerting the clinical team to any medical deterioration and triggering a timely clinical response.

How the NEWS works

The NEWS, like many existing EWS systems, is based on a simple scoring system in which a score is allocated to physiological measurements already undertaken when patients present to, or are being monitored in hospital.

Six simple physiological parameters form the basis of the scoring system:

1  respiratory rate
2  oxygen saturations
3  temperature
4  systolic blood pressure
5  pulse rate
6  level of consciousness.

A score is allocated to each as they are measured, the magnitude of the score reflecting how extreme the parameter varies from the norm. This score is then aggregated, and uplifted for people requiring oxygen. It is important to emphasise that these parameters are already routinely measured in hospitals and recorded on the clinical chart.

Contact

For any NEWS queries, please email Tracy Scollin at tracy.scollin@rcplondon.ac.uk.