Technology Improves Palliative Care

Patients who are nearing the end of their life can now be referred electronically to and from hospices across Cumbria & Lancashire. In situations where time is often even more precious, electronic referrals allow for patients to be referred into the most suitable specialist care more quickly. Previously, patients were referred through hand written faxed documents which were time consuming to prepare and often difficult to read.

Maddy Bass, Head of Nursing & Quality at St Johns Hospice said:  “Electronic referrals save valuable time when a patient is referred. It means a patient can be referred into our hospice or referred back home more quickly as the situation changes. E-referrals also mean that the latest information about the patients’ condition can be shared, with patient consent, to all those involved in their care both in the hospice and the care teams in the community. In the event of an emergency it’s reassuring for patients to know that the Out of Hours teams have information about our patients care and choices too.”

Val Stangoe, CEO at St Marys Hospice continued:  “Now that the patient is referred electronically patient information is instantly available. This means our patients have to revisit less of their story when they meet new members of staff involved in their care which reduces stress for our patients and for their families.”

Both St Johns Hospice in Lancaster & St Marys Hospice in Ulverston can now send and receive electronic referrals from the Specialist Palliative Care Teams at the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. The plan is for all Hospice services across Cumbria to adopt this approach for receiving referrals and work is well underway with the other Hospice Service Providers in the County to adopt this approach.

Palliative care e-referrals are the latest to go live in the programme to implement e-Referrals across Cumbria joining up patient care across health and social networks. e-referrals are a significant element of the eHealth Cumbria programme that is being rolled out as we move towards a paperless NHS by 2018.

The roll-out and development of e-referrals across Lancashire & Cumbria is being supported by funding from the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, North West Coast Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and the North East and North Cumbria AHSN. 

The organisations involved in the project include: NHS Cumbria CCG, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, St Johns Hospice Lancaster, St Marys Hospice Ulverston, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and Strata Health.

eHealth Cumbria is funded and hosted by Cumbria CCG and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.