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Funding for ‘rapid response’ palliative care nurse service

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Ministers have announced funding to maintain an expansion of Northern Ireland’s “rapid response service” for end of life care patients.

The Marie Curie rapid response service has been operating in the Northern and Southern Health and Social Care Trusts since 2008-09, providing urgent overnight out of hours cover for patients with palliative care needs.

“The minister’s announcement of new funding is fantastic news”

Paula Heneghan

In 2015, the service was extended to include the daytime (8am to 10pm) at weekends and bank holidays, as part of a pilot for a period of 12 months.

The extended model – covering nights across the week, weekends and bank holiday service – was also introduced in the northern sector of the Western Trust.

Delivered by Marie Curie palliative care nurses – working in partnership with the local GP out of hours – the service responds to calls for care and assistance and also provides telephone advice to families and patients who may not need a home visit.

Health minister Simon Hamilton today announced £285,000 funding to ensure the continuation of the extended service during 2016-17.

He said a review of the service had shown that 28% of visits by its nurses had prevented a subsequent hospital admission or ambulance call out.

“In the first year of the extended service, over 2,000 visits and calls were made to over 800 patients and carers and 88% of visits took place within two hours of the initial request being made,” he said. “This highlights the importance of the rapid response service.”

Paula Heneghan, regional manager for the Marie Curie Nursing Service, said: “The minister’s announcement of new funding is fantastic news.

“We know from research that patients with a terminal illness prefer to be treated away from hospital, and where possible, in their own homes,” she said. “The rapid response service allows us to meet this need head-on, ensuring patients receive care where they want it and when they need it.”

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