A new rule giving patients and their families a louder voice has been hailed as a potential "game-changer" after being adopted by all of Norfolk's main hospitals.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth in King's Lynn and the James Paget in Gorleston have all been included in the initial rollout of 'Martha's rule'.

Named after Martha Mills, a 13-year-old girl who died from sepsis, the rule allows patients, families and carers to request an urgent, independent second opinion if they feel their loved one is deteriorating and their concerns are not being heard.

A rollout of the rule was announced by the NHS this month, with 143 hospital sites nationally involved in a trial run of the approach.

The move has been welcomed by Norwich businessman Marcus Pearcey, whose father Michael died in February while being treated at the Norfolk and Norwich.

Mr Pearcey, an 85-year-old retired offshore worker from Postwick, had been admitted for a routine operation, but deteriorated after developing sepsis during his recovery and died on February 22 of multiple organ failure.

Mr Pearcey said he felt Martha's rule would have made a huge difference if it was in effect while his father was being treated.

He said: "Martha's rule is going to be a massive game-changer for people.

"I feel like I am quite a confident person when it comes to making my voice heard, but I was just lost at the time and had no real idea where to turn.

"This will make a huge difference as I think if I would have known about it I would have had the strength to call for it."

Prof Sir Stephen Powis, NHS's national medical director, has said the policy would represent "one of the most important changes to patient care in years".

The rollout will make a critical care outreach team available 24/7 for NHS trusts, families, carers and patient advocates.

Who was Martha Mills?

Eastern Daily Press: Martha Mills, who Martha's rule is named afterMartha Mills, who Martha's rule is named after

Martha Mills was a 13-year-old girl from South London who died of sepsis in 2021.

She was admitted to King's College Hospital with a pancreatic injury after falling off her bicycle in what initially appeared to be a minor accident.

However, while being treated she developed sepsis and her condition deteriorated and she died.

In 2022, a coroner ruled she would have survived if doctors had identified warning signs sooner and transferred her to intensive care earlier - as her parents had requested.

Following her death, her mother Merope Mills and Paul Laity, campaigned fervently for this change in NHS policy.

In a statement, they said: "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."