National Early Warning Score (NEWS) provides national guidance in standardisation of critical signs for patients in the acute setting. For an acutely unwell patient, a fast, efficient and consistent response is essential to optimise clinical outcomes. A number of national reports have highlighted the importance of early warning scores and several approaches are in use nationwide. The recommendations from the National Early Warning Scores Development and Implementation Group (NEWSDIG), do not advocate a radical shift in the method of assessment of illness severity, they consolidate the information from existing systems. The novel element is the standardisation and clarity of purpose.

The underlying rationale for NEWS is to encourage the adoption of this standardised approach across the NHS. This rationale anticipates delivery of healthcare to acutely ill patients will be substantially improved by the routine embedding of simple and consistent systems based on: A systematic method of measuring physiological parameters to allow early recognition of those with acute illness and; The definition of the appropriate speed and scale of clinical response required, tailored to the level of acute illness severity.

Following the NEWSDIG “Standardising the Assessment of Acute Illness Severity in the NHS” report and recommendations in February 2011, a working group was established in collaboration with NHS Training for Innovation (TFI), the National Outreach Forum (NOrF), the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Physicians, London. With extensive clinical input from these organisations, NHS Training for Innovation was able to utilise their unique skills and experience to create the practical, user friendly material and training tools necessary for the introduction and rapid national uptake of this much improved, standardised early warning system. The group developed generic early warning observation, scores and response guidance charts together with the web-based e-learning tools found here.