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Palliative Care

Volume 593: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2015

15. What estimate he has made of the number of admissions to A & E in the last three years for patients with palliative care needs in (a) areas with a 24-hour palliative care helpline or palliative co-ordination centre and (b) areas that do not offer such services; and if he will make a statement. (907658)

We know from local examples that areas that offer 24/7 community palliative care services have been able to reduce the number of A and E attendances and inappropriate hospital admissions, including emergency admissions, for people with palliative care needs. I would encourage all areas to offer these services in line with the NICE quality standard.

A poll conducted by Sue Ryder shows that 82% of people expect advice to be available 24/7, yet only 8% of CCG areas have a dedicated around-the-clock palliative care helpline and co-ordination centre. As I am sure we all agree, carers do wonderful work and need as much support as possible. Will my right hon. Friend’s Department work with Sue Ryder and others to ensure that there is a dedicated 24/7 palliative care service, which would certainly help to take the strain away from A and E, which is already under great pressure?

I pay tribute to the professionals in my hon. Friend’s area, which is one of the leading areas for providing strong support in the community, which prevents unnecessary hospital admissions. I am very happy to work with Sue Ryder and others to try to get the message across that if this can be provided throughout the country we will improve the experience of people at the end of life, but critically also save costs further down the line by stopping inappropriate hospital admissions.