Community pharmacists are frequently not made aware if a patient has been placed on a palliative care register, a cross-party group of Welsh MPs has heard.
The issue was raised in ‘Inequalities in access to hospice and palliative care’, a report from the National Assembly for Wales’s Cross-Party Group on Hospices and Palliative Care, chaired by assembly member Mark Isherwood. The inquiry leading to the new report aimed to identify gaps in the provision of equal access to hospice and palliative care in Wales.
Palliative care registers are used to identify patients with palliative care needs and to coordinate multidisciplinary palliative care for those patients. But in a recent survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Wales, two-thirds of respondents said they had not been informed that a patient was on such a register.
In recent months, the Society has met with Isherwood, as well as Catrin Edwards, from the cross-party group’s secretariat, to raise these issues and promote pharmacy’s contribution to multidisciplinary palliative care.
Elen Jones, interim director for RPS Wales, also attended the inquiry roundtable on 14 February 2018 and the Society emphasised to the group the value that pharmacists bring to out-of-hours multidisciplinary teams providing palliative and end-of-life care: something acknowledged by the cross-party group in the report.
Among its recommendations, the cross-party group said that health boards should “demonstrate how they consider end-of-life care needs in determining their out-of-hours coverage and work cooperatively to resource paediatric out-of-hours services at an all-Wales level”.
This should include “appropriate resourcing” of the 24/7 specialist advice line for adult palliative care, and ensuring that GPs, nurses and pharmacists providing out-of-hours care are directed to this advice line.
The cross-party group also said that end-of-life care should be seen as a core role of care homes and that financial resources and access to specialist support should be provided to that end.
Jones welcomed the cross-party group’s report, saying that it “includes a number of clear recommendations that have the potential to make a real difference to palliative care patients and their families”.
“We are particularly delighted that the report makes practical recommendations that will enable pharmacy to take a greater role in this area of care,” she said.
Jones added that RPS Wales’s next steps are to build on the report’s recommendations in the Society’s upcoming policy on palliative and end-of-life care, due to be published later in 2018.
The full cross-party group report is available from the National Assembly for Wales’s website.