Baroness Ilora Finlay, who this month takes up the role Chair of Trustees at The National Council for Palliative Care, writes for ehospice about her private members’ bill, introduced into the House of Lords in June, which aims to ensure that everyone can receive good care at end of life, no matter where they live.
Disease does not respect geography, the clock or the calendar and patients should have access to good quality care in their dying days wherever and whenever it is needed.
A plethora of reports in recent years have highlighted failures in palliative and end of life care. The Francis Report on Mid Staffordshire was shocking, and the recent Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman’s report Dying without dignity highlighted inadequate care of dying patients in general care settings, including in their own homes, due to failures in care delivery staff competencies and care systems.
All these cases were deeply distressing and clearly illustrate a steady stream of complaints. Sadly, however, they were not a great surprise.
In the report, perhaps the most shocking of all the chapters was that of a patient on a palliative care ward, where the nursing staff did not recognise and respond to distress, did not use their initiative to obtain a rapid review of the drugs prescribed, and did not feel empowered to contact the consultant on call. One would have hoped that, faced with a distressed patient, an experienced nurse would have taken a telephone order for breakthrough analgesia.
But, without adequate education from the outset of healthcare training, professionals in their development get the message that other aspects of healthcare are more important than care of the dying, do not know how and are not empowered to competently respond…….
….My Access to palliative care bill seeks to solve these problems through requiring clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to commission specific specialist palliative care services and improve research and education in this field.