Specialist palliative care treatment could help reduce waiting times in A&E

As A&E departments struggle to meet government targets, innovative palliative care approaches, where appropriate, not only provide better patient care but also less log-jam in A&E.

Accident and Emergency (A&E) waiting times have experienced a recent increase causing the NHS to consistently miss waiting time targets. [1]

In Scotland, the government target for A&E waiting times within 4 hours is 98% of those who arrive in A&E. The target measures the time from arrival to being discharged, admitted to hospital or transferred elsewhere.

Percentage of A&E patients arriving and being admitted, discharged or transferred within 4 hours in Scotland

Average waiting time statistics based on figures from ISD Scotland. [2]

For patients with end of life conditions, specialist palliative care services could streamline symptom control and expedite appropriate further care. Specialist palliative care units can help to provide this special attention.

The Acute Palliative Care Unit in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, is a short-stay, intensive palliative care unit, which offers patients with advanced illness the possibility of rapid, multidisciplinary assessment. Where possible, patients can be transferred back into the community with:

  • improved symptom control;
  • a clearer understanding of where patients are in their illness; and
  • co-ordinated community / hospital care.

PATCH was inspired by the model of care developed in the Acute Palliative Care Unit in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. This model of care was started by a charitable donation to NHS Tayside Endowment Fund and is now funded by NHS Tayside.

Further information

References and Footnotes

  1. BBC News. (2015). A&E waiting is worst for a decade [Accessed: 17 January 2015].
  2. ISD Scotland. Accident & Emergency Waiting Times Statistics, [Accessed 17 January 2015].