Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (February 19, 2010) Accessing out of hours care is still a challenge for UK palliative care patients, even several years after the introduction of phone help line services like NHS24 and NHS Direct. Scottish researchers have specific recommendations for a more detailed and regular communication strategy to improve patients' care, which are published by SAGE in the journal Palliative Medicine.
Palliative care patients can expect help from familiar primary care team professionals around a third of the time - but when unexpected events occur out of hours (OOH), an unfamiliar team often steps in, and the patient may be sent to hospital inappropriately, or against their wishes.
Most patients state they would prefer to die at home. Only about a quarter of patients actually achieve this in the UK, with about half dying in hospital and the remainder passing away in nursing or care homes or outside the health service.
Major changes to OOH primary care took effect in the UK during 2003-2004, leading to particular concerns on palliative care patients' behalf. General practitioners (GPs) are no longer responsible for OOH care of their patients, who now call a central number to speak to a nurse in a call centre, a service known as NHS24 in Scotland, and NHS Direct in England and Wales. Even before these changes, GPs and other health professionals were concerned about continuity of care, access inequalities and variable care quality for this vulnerable patient group.
Dr Cameron Fergus, a palliative medicine consultant at Borders General Hospital, Melrose, Scotland together with colleagues Dr David Chinn and Professor Scott Murray from the University of Edinburgh conducted interviews and gathered census and National Health Service (NHS) statistics on palliative care in the Levenmouth area, on the east coast of Scotland. The researchers also directly observed NHS24, communi
|Contact: Jayne Fairley|
SAGE Publications UK