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Care in dying days for people in Norfolk 'getting worse' councillors told

PUBLISHED: 13:58 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:58 05 September 2019

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich. Picture Neil Perry.

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich. Picture Neil Perry.

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The care which people in Norfolk and Waveney receive in their dying days has come under the spotlight - with one social worker telling councillors the situation is getting worse.

A shortage of care places and staff to deliver palliative care packages in homes is heaping stress on people in their final days, a meeting was told.

Councillors on the Norfolk health and overview scrutiny committee heard about efforts to improve care in people's last days at a meeting today.

It came a year after the committee heard about shortcomings in palliative care services for the dying.

Health bosses from clinical commissioning groups and NHS England said they were on an "improvement journey" and there was now better collaboration between organisations.

Cath Byford, chief nurse for the NHS clinical commissioning groups for Norfolk and Waveney, said: "I think it's fair to say I have never come to one of these meetings and said we have cracked it, but we have improved significantly."

Health bosses said here had been investment in the hospice at home scheme in Norfolk, which provides support for the last weeks of life.

And a process is under way to provide palliative and end of life care in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

But Grainne Murray, a palliative care social worker at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said the situation was getting worse .

She said: "It's wonderful that community health have introduced services to meet needs, but it's just a drop in the ocean."

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She said she was having to manage the expectations of dying patients and their families because of "market failure".

She said a lack of care spaces and staff meant people did not always get the choice of where they died.

She said: "I have been in this job for more than 10 years and it's just getting worse."

Ms Byford said: "Some of these points are a real worry and some of them we have an opportunity to do something about quite quickly.

"But one of the challenges we are seeing across Norfolk and Waveney is about care capacity through residential homes and care staff.

"We need to address that in partnership with health and social care and I am having really positive conversations."

An appeal is under way to raise £12.5m to build a new hospice at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The Priscilla Bacon Hospice would provide much-needed additional beds for those with life limiting illnesses needing palliative care.

It would replace the Priscilla Bacon Lodge in Unthank Road.

Last year there were 4,622 referrals to the Priscilla Bacon Lodge and the new hospice would increase the number of beds available from 16 to 24, with further scope to expand.

The campaign is backed by this newspaper.

To pledge your support or donate email hugostevenson@priscillabaconhospice.org.uk or click here or to donate offline contact Priscilla Bacon Hospice on enquiries@priscillabaconhospice.org.uk or by writing to 9-11 Drayton High Road, Norwich NR8 6AH.

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