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Little progress on nursing teams for end of life care

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Fast-response nursing teams that would allow patients to die in their own homes have not been rolled out in the first year of the government’s end-of-life care strategy, despite such teams being a significant part of the strategy.

When the strategy was launched in July last year the government said a key to its success would be the provision of specialist fast-response nursing teams available round the clock.

The teams were likely to be based on an existing pilot project run by Marie Curie Cancer Care in Lincolnshire, and Nursing Times estimated that 1,600 nurses would be needed to staff such a service across England.

One year on, the pilot has been broadened to cover the whole of Lincolnshire, but Susan Monroe, head of nursing and patient services at Marie Curie, said no other PCTs had commissioned similar schemes from the charity over the past year.

She said a small number of PCTs in England had expressed an interest in developing such a service, but none were in the process of being set up.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: ‘We have identified the importance of the availability of 24/7 nursing, and rapid response services, in the strategy and the operating framework.

‘However, it does not dictate to PCTs how services should be delivered. It is up to them to decide how services should be designed to best meet local need,’ he added.

Over the next 18 months the NHS is set to receive an extra £286m from the government to implement the end-of-life care strategy, with some being spent at national level, some at regional level by SHAs and most at local level by PCTs.

The National Council for Palliative Care said it would ‘closely monitor’ the investment of money earmarked for the end of life care strategy over the next two years ‘to ensure it is being used effectively to develop local services’.

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