Intended for healthcare professionals


Leeds trials “end-of-life doulas” to ease pressure on beds and GPs

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 08 September 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o1836
  1. Sally Howard, freelance journalist
  1. London, UK
  1. sal{at}

A pilot is tackling the burden of elderly patients’ unmet practical and administrative needs, reports Sally Howard

NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) is piloting a novel approach to support end-of-life patients in the community in Leeds. The project includes a digital tool to help GPs identify patients nearing the end of life, improvements to advance care planning, and £50 000 funding for “end-of-life doulas.”

It is estimated that 1.5 million older people have some unmet care needs, with the number projected to rise to 2.1 million by 20301 should governments fail to act, Age UK says. This has a knock-on effect on hospitals—as elderly people are admitted to hospital for want of other care—and general practice. GPs are being asked to undertake life administration for the elderly, including to ensure a patient is taking their medication, and to administrate advance care planning and NHS continuing healthcare (funding for domiciliary and social care) applications. They also find themselves fielding calls from lonely patients and from worried family members. End-of-life doulas can provide this sort of support.

Care and death at home

Leeds’s 2021 health and wellbeing strategy noted that 37 000 older people experience social isolation and loneliness in the …

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