Can palliative care teams relieve some of the pressure on acute services?

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3693 (Published 06 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3693
  1. Fliss Murtagh, clinical senior lecturer and consultant in palliative care
  1. 1King’s College London, Cicely Saunders Institute—Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, London SE5 9RJ, UK
  1. fliss.murtagh{at}kcl.ac.uk

All the evidence points that way; commissioners take note

Specialist palliative care teams are those with palliative care as their core daily work. They are multidisciplinary teams, have specialist skills and experience, and deliver palliative care both directly and indirectly; directly by providing care to patients and families, and indirectly by supporting other professionals to deliver such care.1

Providers, commissioners, and funders of health services need to know whether specialist palliative care teams make a difference and, if so, how. They need to know this, not only to determine whether these teams make a positive difference for patients and families, but also because of the urgent need for health services across the world to do things differently; to shift the emphasis from acute care to better coordinated care at home and across the interface between acute and community care. In this issue of The BMJ (doi:10.1136/bmj.g3496) Seow and colleagues report a retrospective cohort study from Canada which suggests that community based specialist palliative care teams are effective in reducing use of acute care services (hospitalisation and emergency department attendance) in the last weeks of life.2 This adds to growing evidence that specialist palliative care teams not only improve patients’ symptom control, quality of life, and satisfaction with care, but can change patterns of …

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