How St Mary’s Hospice is bringing a new, innovative way of working for end of life care

St Mary’s Hospice is pioneering a way of working with its Clinical Care Team to ensure a sustainable future for the hospice enabling it to continue to be there for its community and increase its reach with excellent, high quality care.

Last year, St Mary’s recruitment activity – like many other hospices – was impacted on by the shortage in the number of palliative care doctors available nationally. This gave the hospice the opportunity to review its model of working to deliver the staffing needed in the most effective and efficient way to serve the growing needs of its community. The hospice has successfully recruited a number of doctors to build the expert team, but needed a final piece of the jigsaw: to operate in more specialist cases, consultant cover had to be accessible.

Jo Blake, Head of Clinical Services: “Speciality Doctors are able to care for and treat the majority of patients who access hospice in-patient care. However, some patients have more complex needs and for these, the Speciality Doctors need access to medical advice from a senior palliative doctor. This access to a senior palliative doctor/consultant is not available from St Mary’s local NHS Trust (Morecambe Bay) as there are palliative consultant vacancies in the locality. To help resolve this situation we are evolving our way of working by teaming up with Supportive Care UK so they can provide our consultant cover.”

Supportive Care UK Ltd (SCUK) is in the unique position of being able to offer consultant-led specialist supportive and palliative care services across the UK, the first and only company to be able to provide this type of support.

This new model of accessing senior medical support and advice will see St Mary’s team access palliative care consultant time by using a virtual platform during normal day-time working hours and telephone for advice out-of-hours (evenings, nights and weekends). The day-time support will consist of a consultant-supported weekly multi-disciplinary team meeting with the hospice clinical team, and two consultant-supported ward rounds, during which each patient’s care and treatment will be discussed and reviewed.

There are many benefits for the hospice through working with a new model of accessing senior medical support:

Jo Blake, Head of Clinical: “Being able to call a consultant for advice out of hours ensures that patients receive timely symptom management 24/7. Having twice weekly reviews with specialist palliative care consultants from Supportive Care also supports learning and staff development within the team.”

Kate Davison, Integrated Team Sister: “St Mary’s Hospice conducts twice weekly Multi-disciplinary meeting via a virtual platform where Supportive Care UK through their Palliative Care Consultant offer advice, recommendations and support in decision making. All patients currently receiving in-patient care, patients referred for admission into the hospice and complex hospice at home patients are discussed using a holistic approach. Each patient will have a review by the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) which will focus on individualised care, taking into consideration their family views/expectations and what is important to them. Supportive Care UK provide a continuity for the patient and the MDT and discussions are always open and each member valued.

St Mary’s doctors’ added: “We’re finding the Consultant’s input adds significantly to care, prompting us to consider things we may have missed and developing our practice.”

Dr Al Qurainy and Dr Cawley, Supportive Care UK: “Discussing all patients through a virtual face to face platform has enabled us to feel an integral part of the hospice team, thereby supporting robust clinical decision making on the ground. We have been impressed by the level of knowledge and expertise of St Mary’s clinical team, supported by the open, dynamic and engaged attitude of their senior management team.”

Charlotte Healey, CEO ‘Supportive Care UK is delighted to be working with St Mary’s to ensure their high standards of patient care and safety are maintained. The two organisations have formed a cohesive, innovative and truly collaborative partnership and the benefits to staff and patients are evident.”

Val Stangoe, St Mary’s Chief Exec: “We are delighted to be working with SCUK, and building a robust and positive future for St Mary’s and hospice care. We are always reviewing what we do to make the organisation stronger, and are willing to work differently in order to be able to support our community. This new way of working will enable us to reach more people with our care. We achieve this with our dedicated team of staff and volunteers, resources, exceptional facilities and the generosity of our community.”

You can help to continue and grow our services in your community. Our aim is to provide expert care and be there when it matters most for patients and their families. This is dependent on the support we receive from our local community, find out more about our work and the many ways you can support us by playing our lottery, making a donation or becoming a monthly regular giver to St Mary’s by visiting our website Thank you from all of us at St Mary’s.