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Health bosses in Gloucestershire have assured families that expert end-of-life care advice is only a phone call away for nurses

By The Citizen  |  Posted: May 15, 2014

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Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

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HEALTH bosses in Gloucestershire have assured families that expert end-of-life care advice is only a phone call away for nurses, after a damning report on the NHS.

Only a fifth of hospitals across the country have specialist palliative care staff on duty at weekends according to an audit that claims many patients are needlessly dying “badly”.

Palliative care is classed as treatment which aims to relieve and prevent the pain and suffering of patients who are terminally ill.

Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal hospitals are among those which do not offer such face-to-face care seven days a week.

Sean Elyan, medical director for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We do have 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week access to expert palliative care advice by telephone available to all our staff from those experts and the delivery of that service, which I think is a massive credit to the palliative care team across the county, delivering first-quality care for those patients.”

The National Care of the Dying Audit for Hospitals, led by the Royal College of Physicians and the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute, found significant variations in provision, quality and training of end-of-life care.

This audit recommends that people dying in hospital should get access to palliative care from at least 9am to 5pm, seven days a week – guidance which was demanded a decade ago.

A sample of 6,580 people who died at 149 NHS hospitals in England was audited last May and the report also contained the views of 858 bereaved relatives.

The trust’s website says inpatients at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal are seen on wards Monday to Friday within 48 hours of receipt of medical referral, and the out-of-hours advice line is available to health professionals outside of normal working hours.

Outpatients also have access to three palliative care consultants who lead a team of specialist doctors and nurses.

Marie Curie Cancer Care said the trust has achieved a top score of five for “key performance indicators” for the prescriptions of medications for key end-of-life symptoms, but narrowly missed out on a similar rating regarding information relating to death and dying.

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5 comments

  • Hadagmaja  |  May 17 2014, 12:41PM

    It's about time ALL professionals working in the NHS offered 7 day a week care to patients in acute beds. A patients rehab needs don't disappear at the weekend. Someone who has difficulty swallowing should not have to wait over the weekend to be seen by a therapist. The dietary needs of a patient who is unable to take oral nutrition should not go days without food just because the dieticians don't work at the weekend. The same goes for specialist nurses, including those in palliative care and more senior doctors. Patients can become ill at any point and there is a multitude of evidence to suggest that more people die in hospitals at the weekend.

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  • Apothegm_  |  May 16 2014, 9:07AM

    @JemmyWood: expect a Freedom of Information Act request from the NHS to find out how you obtained your information...!

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  • JemmyWood  |  May 16 2014, 7:39AM

    What the article fails to mention, is due to massive cuts in the NHS budget and the tory back door privatisation of the NHS, the number you call is a premium rate number that costs £2.50 a minute and is answered by a call center in Bangalore................... that was a joke by the way.

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  • RoadWombat  |  May 16 2014, 4:10AM

    When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

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  • gruesome  |  May 16 2014, 12:30AM

    Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General Hospital staff couldn't care less with patients who are getting better. Why should they be bothered with dying ones?

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