The prognostic value of national early warning scores (NEWS) during transfer of care from community settings to hospital: a retrospective service evaluation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Matthew Inada-Kim
  • Michelle Sullivan
  • Mark Ainsworth-Smith
  • Neil Pike
  • Mathew Richardson
  • Gail Hayward

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • MRC Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), London, UK.
  • Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


BACKGROUND: The National Early Warning Score (NEWS) calculated from physiological observations provides a simple away to identify and respond to the deteriorating patient. There is increasing interest in the application of NEWS to facilitate referrals from the community.

AIM: To establish whether elevated NEWS are associated with adverse outcomes at 5 and 30 days when obtained in a community setting at the time of transfer to an acute setting.

DESIGN & SETTING: A retrospective service evaluation was undertaken using a database of emergency admissions to secondary care from two NHS district general hospitals within the South of England between January 2018 and April 2019.

METHOD: The performance of NEWS recorded in a community setting to predict death or critical care admission at 5 and 30 days was calculated using established thresholds.

RESULTS: 2786 referrals from primary care were analysed. The 5 day and 30 day mortality was 2.2% (1.7 to 2.8) and 7.1% (6.2 to 8.1). The prevalence of the composite outcome was 3.4% (2.8 to 4.2) at 5 days and 8.5% (7.5 to 9.6) at 30 days. The risk of adverse outcomes increased incrementally with increasing NEWS. When calculated at the point of referral from primary care the positive predictive value of death at 5 and 30 days was 15% (95% confidence intervals [CI] = 12 to 19) and 23% (95% CI = 17 to 30) in the high-risk NEWS group.

CONCLUSION: Elevated NEWS obtained in the community during the process of emergency admission are associated with adverse outcomes. Communicating NEWS may allow downstream care to be better calibrated to risk.

Bibliographic note

Copyright © 2020, The Authors.


Original languageEnglish
Article numberbjgpopen20X101071
JournalBJGP Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2020