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Achieving Quality End-Of-Life Care in the Acute Hospital Setting: The New ‘How to’ Guide
  1. Anita Hayes, Deputy Director
  1. National End of Life Care Programme, Leicester. Email:

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Since the publication of the national End of Life Care Strategy (Department of Health, 2008), a number of initiatives, tools and publications have been produced to support improvement in end-of-life care service provision. In 2010, the National End of Life Care Programme (NEoLCP) published The Route to Success in End of Life Care: Achieving Quality in Acute Hospitals to raise awareness within acute hospitals that end-of-life care is everyone’s responsibility and a core part of acute hospital activity. End-of-life care should not be left to specialist palliative care teams. As such, acute hospital teams, including those based in intensive care, accident and emergency units or outpatient clinics, must understand the factors that shape good end-of-life care.

As well as improving the care provided, understanding that end-of-life care is the responsibility of all staff facilitates improved communication and subsequent coordination of care between departments and teams within trusts. Such communication is essential to support those nearing the end of life and their relatives and families/friends. Professor Sir Mike Richards, National Clinical Director for Cancer and End of Life Care, has stated that: ‘It is now time for acute hospitals to embrace a positive culture in end-of-life care and recognise that it is a core responsibility of every hospital and healthcare professional to deliver excellence for people at the end of life and their families’ (NEoLCP, 2012a).

In the 2 years since publication of The Route to Success in End of Life Care: Achieving Quality in Acute Hospitals, a new emphasis on end-of-life care has brought about real improvements for individuals and their carers in certain specialties, e.g. renal care. Acute trusts and their partners now have a good foundation, setting out what they should do to deliver high-quality end-of-life care. However, scope still exists for practical guidance on …

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