Bereaved daughter is “gutted” after Bolsover palliative care service which cared for her dying mum is being reduced

A bereaved daughter has told how she is “gutted” to learn that a palliative care service is being dramatically reduced after it had helped her poorly mother to die peacefully at home with family.
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Sarah-Jane Porter explained that her mother Christine Porter died aged 67 after suffering heart failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and disease-related malnutrition, but thanks to the DHU Healthcare Palliative Care Urgent Response Service she was able to die in peace at home.

However, Bolsover District and Town Cllr Donna Hales has raised concerns after learning the NHS Derby and Derbyshire Integrated Care Board has altered its commissioning arrangement and withdrawn funding for DHU Healthcare to deliver the PCURS seven-days-a-week after the board believes alternative care support already exists.

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Ms Porter said: “The help we received from the PCURS made a horrible situation much better. I’m sad to see that this decision seems to be based on money and not quality of care. I don’t think any patients and relatives can have been asked about their experiences of dying at home or how the PCURS helped them, otherwise this decision wouldn’t have been made.”

Emotional Sarah Jane Porter reflects on the wonderful work of Derbyshire PcursEmotional Sarah Jane Porter reflects on the wonderful work of Derbyshire Pcurs
Emotional Sarah Jane Porter reflects on the wonderful work of Derbyshire Pcurs

The NHS announced that changes in its palliative care provision for Derbyshire came into effect from September 2 and that the PCURS will be reduced from seven-days-a-week to just weekends and bank holidays for patients in need of urgent intervention.

Ms Porter added that she was “gutted” to learn the PCURS was being reduced especially after the kind treatment her mother had received.

She said: “They prescribed medication to make her comfortable and stop her being frightened. They helped mum feel in control and supported me and my family who were really worried.”

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Ms Porter added that the PCURS helped her and her family understand what to expect before her mother died.

Christine Porter who died at home with support from The Derbyshire Palliative Care Urgent Response ServiceChristine Porter who died at home with support from The Derbyshire Palliative Care Urgent Response Service
Christine Porter who died at home with support from The Derbyshire Palliative Care Urgent Response Service

She has now found herself in a similar situation where she is looking after another close relative and she explained there is no care plan in place and and she added that it is a struggle to get a GP visit.

Ms Porter said: “I’m now in the same situation, as I’m helping to look after another close relative.

“I’m sad to say that nothing seems to have changed as he has no care plan, resuscitation plan or medication. I still find it difficult to get his GP to visit, despite him living past the prognosis he was given.”

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Another bereaved relative, Lia Copestake, also told in a DHU Healthcare video how well her 78-year-old mother had been cared for by the PCURS and how important it was for her mother to be able to die in peace at home.

Some Of The Derbyshire Palliative Care Urgent Response Service TeamSome Of The Derbyshire Palliative Care Urgent Response Service Team
Some Of The Derbyshire Palliative Care Urgent Response Service Team

The DHU Healthcare PCURS team included about 30 clinical and support staff and had received awards from the Nursing Times and The Royal College of Nursing after it was launched in 2018.

It provided care to patients in need of palliative care as well as for their families so patients needing sensitive end-of-life care could die peacefully in their own homes instead of in hospitals.

Small mobile vehicle teams with nurses delivered a range of care in patients’ homes including managing symptoms, treatment, prescriptions, and ensuring further on-going care with other health professionals.

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A DHU Healthcare spokesperson said it was “incredibly disappointing” to learn the PCURS was being reduced from seven-days-a-week to just weekends and bank holidays after the DDICB’s decsion.

The DDICB claims people at end-of-life will still be supported by professional care from doctors, nurses, community teams, and hospices.

An NHS spokesperson also stated that for patients at weekends and bank holidays in need of urgent help there will still be two vehicles, one covering North Derbyshire based at Chesterfield, and another covering South Derbyshire, based at Derby, which began operating from September 2, between 8am and 6pm.

It added that DHU Healthcare will also be providing a dedicated palliative triage practitioner as part of the Clinical Navigation Hub during these same times to give advice and support to patients, carers and healthcare professionals via the 111 phone line or the Health Care Professional line.

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The NHS stated that they will work closely with the PCURS should a home visit from the team be required.

DDICB claims that research revealed that the PCURS is a duplication of other NHS services.

It also claimed the service had been funded through one-off funding sources and it was “not a formally commissioned service” by the DDICB.

A DDICB spokesperson said: “People will continue to receive high levels of compassionate and professional care from doctors, nurses and community teams who are funded through other contracts across the NHS and hospice sector.”

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Derbyshire Times facebook friend Cathy Freeman said: “Having worked on this service I have seen the value of its expertise and the benefits that it has to those patients and families facing the end of life. My question will always be, if the community needs were being effective met by the existing services, why was the PCURS so well utilised. I fear that this expert service has been reduced in favour of services who have shown the need for improvement in this area of care and unfortunately it will be the patients who pay the price.”

Michael Benton added: “It's a disgrace this service is invaluable I know and work with all this amazing team they’ve been to my mum recently and were outstanding.”

Kirsty Smith said: “This amazing service should never be reduced to weekends only! The patients and families we have supported as a team have all said how valuable the service is. Community nursing teams have said how worried they are for patient care now they haven't got this service to support them in getting the proper and timely care for their patients.”

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