Letter: Concern over unit closure

Bridlington Hospital.
Bridlington Hospital.

What a cruel and unfair decision the East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group make with the closure of the End of Life unit at Brid Hospital.

For myself, and I am sure for Brid folk, this decision is a particularly difficult decision to swallow.

I would like to use the words of Dr Jane Collins, chief executive for Marie Curie, and for Jane Hawkard, chief executive of East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group, to pay special attention to Dr Jane Collins’ reports. It is a sad truth that 167,000 people in the UK still die from cancer each year, yet access to high quality care and support including palliative care in hospital or in social care, is not a universal experience for these folk or their families.

Wider research shows that one in four folk don’t get the care and support they need at the end of their life.

This is totally unacceptable.

Everyone has the right to good palliative end-of-life care when they need it, regardless of where they live or their personal circumstances.

Everyone who has a terminal illness, and their families and carers, should be able to access the care and support they need whether it is in an End-of-Life unit in a hospital or in the community.

Provision of local End-of-Life care plays an important part for patient, families and carers, not to send End-of-Life patients, carers and families on a 40-mile round trip to Beverley and then back to Brid.

The journey to Beverley Hospital for End-of-Life patients creates a delay to exist for urgent intervention to an End-of-Life patients’ symptoms such as pain, agitation, nausea and sickness.

The Care Act 2014 imposes a duty on local authorities to provide or arrange for the provision of services that contribute towards preventing, delaying or reducing care needs. The mere fact that patients are having to travel 20 miles to Beverley Hospital and then 20 miles back to Brid meets the criterion of Care Act 2014, so therefore the local authority creates a delay to exist to patients’ needs. Actions for End-of-Life Care NHS England states that NICE Quality Standard No9 informs us that people approaching their end of life who experience a crisis at any time of day or night receive prompt, safe and effective urgent care appropriate to their needs and preferences.

A 20-mile journey to Beverley Hospital for someone who is nearing the end of their life is not my idea of a prompt and effective way of coordinating someone’s end of life care. Clinical

Commissioning Group chief executive Jane Hawkard informs us that her group wants to work with the Brid community to manage End-of-Life care in the community, as in other areas.

The chief executive for the group also states that Macmillan do support that direction of travel. I would like to give Jane Hawkard a patient’s experience of End-of-Life care in the community.

My late dear wife Jean was diagnosed in July 2015 with central lung cancer, tumours to both sides of her brain and adrenal cancer.

She was placed into the End-of-Life care in the home. She was awarded the Gold Standard framework End-of-Life care plan in the community co-ordinated by the district nurse team and the local hospice nurses at home service.

She was assigned a clinical nurse specialist who was a Macmillan nurse.

In the four-and-a-half months that my wife lived before she died this Macmillan nurse gave my wife just two visits in those months. This Macmillan nurse, yes just one nurse, covers the whole of Hertfordshire. My wife’s palliative care plan was one visit every fortnight. Shortage of palliative care staff was common.

There would also be missed arranged visits from this palliative care team.

On one occasion my wife had to wait three hours for a syringe driver to be set up.

On another occasion she had to endure a seizure that lasted two hours before urgent intervention by her palliative care team.

I was told by this team that they cannot respond to emergencies especially in the mornings.

After seeing how my dear wife was treated by care in the community that was not fit for the purpose, I have much concern for the folk of Brid who will be placed into End-of-Life care in the community in the future.

So I say to Jane Hawkard palliative End-of-Life care in the community is in a shocking state of affairs, and will not get any better in the future after the chancellor’s budget speech that informs us he is only allowing £2m to be spread over three years for care in the community.

This is a piffling amount of money. So, therefore in the future clinical commissioning groups will have no option but to make further cutbacks to community care.

Ernie Mackenzie

Gammons Lane,