The NTSP team, based at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, won the prestigious BMJ Anaesthesia team of the year award for 2020. This year, the BMJ Awards took place virtually on Wednesday 7th October with the winners announced online. Now in their 12th year, the awards recognise the professionalism, commitment, creativity, and hard work of healthcare teams across the UK. The award was announced by Prof William Harrop-Griffiths on behalf of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the BMJ.


The award recognises the impact of the 2016-2019 Improving Tracheostomy Care program which demonstrated at scale that implementing a complex QI program was both possible and effective in improving the quality and safety of care.

The team work across Wythenshawe Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH) and Manchester Royal Infirmary, all part of MFT, in the community, and also support training and care in non-tertiary centres across the UK.

Until recently, there was no universal package of guidance for staff to treat patients fitted with a tracheostomy. Over the last six years, clinicians at MFT have worked to improve patient safety, patient experience and collaborative care, sharing their learning with hospitals across the UK. 

Brendan McGrath, Consultant Anaesthetist at MFT and the NHS England National Clinical Advisor for Tracheostomy, and his team have led on local and national studies identifying recurrent problems with tracheostomy care. 

In 2014, the team at MFT initiated a pilot study in four NHS Trusts in Greater Manchester. The improvement project has now been rolled out to 20 diverse UK hospitals following the pilot. The programme includes standardising care and providing training for more than 4,000 members of staff.

Dr Brendan McGrath, Consultant Anaesthetist at MFT said: “We are proud to be leading the way in tracheostomy care and improving the quality of care for our patients, and sharing our learning with hospitals across the UK. Patients and their families have been at the heart of our programme of improvement and they have been involved in all aspects. 

“We are delighted to be shortlisted for this award and it is a mark of real achievement for the team involved. We are so proud of the work we do, and the improved care and patient experience that we are able to provide for our patients.” 

The three year improvement programme has reduced the harm from incidents by 55% and has resulted in higher quality care, with a 47% reduction in patient reported anxiety and depression and significantly earlier time to talking, eating and drinking. 

More efficient care led to significant cost savings, estimated to save the NHS £275 million as part of a National Patient Safety Improvement Programme from 2020. 

Dr McGrath has also established the UK National Tracheostomy Safety Project with MFT colleagues, designing educational resources and multidisciplinary quality improvement programmes. 

He continued: “Patients told us that their main worries were around eating, drinking and talking, which is one of the reasons behind the creation of more than 50 short educational videos for patients, families and healthcare staff.”

Following the successful implementation of films made with adult tracheostomy patients, viewed by more than one million people worldwide, the team developed and filmed a set of 25 educational videos for paediatric tracheostomy patients at RMCH, with a red-carpet premiere for the patients and staff involved.

Brendan and his team have also led on setting up the Global Tracheostomy Collaborative which shares good practice from exemplar hospitals around the world and evaluates the impact of improvements. MFT was the first Trust in Europe to join the initiative and the team’s work in Manchester remains pivotal in improving the quality and safety of care for patients.