Saturday, November 19, 2011

John Bannister attacks Palliative Care "Shambles"

The Reverend John Bannister, rector of Whitehaven and leading light of the "Save Our Services" campaign to protect hospital services has expressed his concern at the management of Palliative Care at West Cumberland Hospital.

The palliative care unit at the hospital has closed and health bosses say there is an area set aside in the new hospital building in the Copeland Unit (a ward of community beds managed by GPs) to provide up to six palliative care single rooms.

But in the interim period, patients who require hospital treatment as part of their palliative care are either being admitted to beds in the Copeland Unit or elsewhere in the hospital.

Revd. Bannister told the Whitehaven News that

“Palliative care is a specialist and complex system of care that should only be provided in an appropriate environment and not in the mix of a busy general ward where, with the best intentions, nurses don’t have the skill or time to give appropriate palliative care.”

“The mishandling of this service has resulted in a loss of what was a strong skill-base of trained palliative care nurses who now feel de-skilled and demoralised. I believe that it has also compromised the care needed by several patients, both causing additional distress and anxiety to them and their families in the final days of life.”

“The way in which we care for the dying is, in every way, a measure of our humanity. I am ashamed that in this situation West Cumberland Hospital has failed to live up to these standards.”

“In addition to compromising care for such a vulnerable group of patients I am also concerned that the firm agreement between the Trust and stakeholders that no clinical services would be moved off site without consultation has been disregarded.”

It is understood that palliative care support is now based in Workington with teams “in-reaching” into a hospital setting.

Mike Walker, the North Cumbria University Hospital Trust medical director, said that:

“Beds are available at the West Cumberland Hospital for palliative care patients who require hospital support. Their needs are identified by the clinical teams and palliative care patients are found the most appropriate bed in the hospital to meet their ongoing care.

“The Trust has been working very closely with GP commissioners to further develop palliative care services that meet the needs of patients in West Cumbria. The Trust will be holding further discussions in early December with the commissioning GPs and the West Cumberland Hospital Overview Scrutiny Task group.”

Dr David Rogers, lead GP for Copeland, said that:

“The local NHS has been working to improve palliative care services at the West Cumberland Hospital by integrating them with the Copeland Unit which also delivers rehabilitation, diagnostic tests and other support for inpatients.

“This is being taken forward by the hospitals trust and the partnership trust, which is now responsible for the Copeland Unit.

“Until this change has been completed, the hospitals trust has given reassurance that palliative care patients who require inpatient treatment will continue to receive this at the West Cumberland Hospital in the most appropriate setting for their needs.

“The overall change is part of a series of measures which will make sure specialist hospital care is there for people who need it, while at the same time extending this out into the community for those who want to end their days at home surrounded by their loved ones and the things they love.”

Hat tip to the Whitehaven News which was the source for most of the information in this article.