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NT talks to Sarah Waller from the King's Fund on palliative care

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Sarah Waller, nurse and programme director for the Kings Fund's enhancing the health environment programme explains the basis for a new £1 million programme to improve facilities to care for patients at the end of life recently launched by the Kings Fund and Department of Health.

NT: Why does the NHS need to improve the environment for patients at the end of life?

SW: It is important to enhance the healing environment for both dying patients, their relatives and their staff, and this programme comes ahead of the government's end of life care strategy which we understand is due to be published in July'.

NT: What is the new programme?

SW: Nurse led teams in 19 NHS trusts and one prison will be looking at how to improve the environment for dying patients, their relatives and the frontline staff who care for them. The 20 new projects will include increasing palliative care beds, and making improvements to facilities for families and visitors including dedicated bereavement suites and refurbished mortuary viewing facilities.'

NT: Why is it important to include clinical staff?

SW: Clinical leadership in this area gives a greater understanding of the environment and the way we deliver care.

SW: The number of requests by bereaved relatives to view dead patients in hospital mortuaries has increased markedly in recent years and premises need to be improved to reflect this.

SW: Care does not end when someone dies this programme helps to focus the work of both clinicians and estates colleagues which is very helpful.

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