Published: 06/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5904 Page 7

The National Patient Safety Agency has launched a tool to help managers in acute trusts deal with staff when a serious incident has occurred.

Organisational development adviser Sandra Meadows said the 'incident decision tree' - which takes managers through a series of questions - would be of particular use to junior managers, who seldom faced disciplinary decisions.

'For some junior managers, perhaps it is the first time they have [dealt with a serious incident] or do so only about once a year, so they will find this an extremely useful model to work through.'

Questions in the form include whether a member of staff is ill or there have been failures in training.

Following piloting of the tool - which was developed from one used in the aviation industry - Ms Meadows said it appeared that nurse managers were most likely to inappropriately suspend. She suggested 'nurses often believe suspension is the safest option'.

'The incident decision tree helps people to think more objectively and consider methods other than suspension, ' he said. Alternatives include increased supervision, changes in duties or a conclusion of systems failure.

A current version is suitable for acute, mental health and ambulance trusts.A primary care model will be available later this year.