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New initiative seeks to improve end of life care in hospitals

Author: Tom Moran
18 February 2016

Ten acute hospital trusts will take part in a new, government-backed programme, 'Building on the best', which is intended to improve palliative and end of life care in hospitals across the country.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, slightly fewer than half of all deaths in England and Wales take place in hospital.

Building on the best will seek to address variations in the quality of care provided in hospitals, ensuring that patients can receive high-quality, safe care wherever they are.

The programme will also look to enable patients to make choices regarding their care, in accordance with their own and their families’ wishes.

The programme, which will initially roll out across ten English acute hospital trusts, is supported by a partnership between the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC), Macmillan, NHS England and the NHS Trust Development Authority in England.

Ben Gummer, parliamentary under secretary of state for quality at the Department of Health, said: "I am determined to improve end of life care and this excellent initiative will benefit thousands of patients and their families at one of the most difficult and vulnerable moments of their lives.

"Thanks to the hard work of the NCPC and Macmillan, the crucial lessons from this programme can be evaluated, shared and implemented in hospitals across the country to ensure the NHS continues to provide high quality care 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Other areas in which Building on the best will seek to make improvements include making more information available to patients and their families, using outpatient appointments to discuss advance and anticipatory care planning, and pain and symptom management. It will also look to develop the work of the Transforming End of Life Care in Acute Hospitals Programme.

The programme will run for two and a half years, with staff from each of the selected acute hospital trusts meeting for the first time at a two-day event next month.

"We were impressed by the number and the quality of the applications received," said Anita Hayes, who was part of the panel which selected the ten successful trusts.

"The Transform programme has clearly helped hospitals make good progress in this area. Building on the best will enable us to take this further and help develop ways for these improvements to be shared widely."

More information about the programme can be found on the NCPC website.

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