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Care of dying patients is improving, but access to palliative specialists varies

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 02 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7859
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Just a fifth of hospitals in England had a member of their specialist palliative care service on site seven days a week during office hours in 2011 to support healthcare professionals caring for dying patients, an audit has found.

The audit, carried out by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool and the Royal College of Physicians, found that most trusts (92%) had access to telephone support out of hours but that only 20% had a face to face palliative care service available seven days a week. The audit team recommends that all hospital trusts should have a specialist palliative care service available to see dying patients if ward staff require support or advice on their care.

Deborah Murphy, associate director of the institute, said, “If ward staff need specialist advice, most have access to this by phone, but we consider it much better if members of …

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