Hospital Dr News

Palliative care improving but round the clock availability of specialist staff a problem

Many hospitals still do not have round-the-clock availability of specialist palliative care in hospitals, research by the Royal College of Physicians reveals.

The results of the RCP’s end of life care audit – the first since the Liverpool Care Pathway was scrapped – show that there has been steady progress in the care of dying people since the previous audit.

But it suggests there is still room for improvement, with many trusts needing to improve in some areas in order to provide consistently high quality care for the dying.

The need for better recruitment into palliative care is also noted.

On the positive side, the audit reveals that there is better recognition that patients are dying and that they have received holistic assessments of their care.

There is symptom control for the dying person, and the amount and quality of communication with patients has improved.

Dr Adrian Tookman, Clinical Director at Marie Curie, said: “‘It’s clear from the report that there has been a real effort to improve care of the dying in hospitals over recent years. Despite this, we can’t ignore the fact that the vast majority of dying people and those close to them, still have limited or no access to specialist palliative care support when they need it in hospital.  This is not right, nor good enough.

“Care of the dying has no respect for time, so if we are to deliver a consistent 7-day service by 2020, it is critical that funding is directed towards recruiting and training doctors and nurses to provide specialist care now. Otherwise, the problem will only get worse as more people die each year.

“Round-the-clock availability of specialist palliative care in hospitals should be the norm. When this care is missing, people suffer, and this suffering can live long in the memory of those they leave behind.”

Read the findings.

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