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Improving end of life care across Waltham Forest and Redbridge

The NHS has been working closely with local people and our care partners to understand how palliative and end of life care can be improved across Waltham Forest and Redbridge. We are also working with teams in West Essex on their plans to continue delivering services to people living in areas such as Loughton, Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill.

Hundreds of conversations with local people, health professionals, local politicians and the organisations providing services have taken place over the past 2 years.

A comprehensive programme of community engagement has taken place to influence the service model, and ensure the resident voice is at the heart of future provision.  This has included the establishment of a community working group, gathering insight via surveys, and the collection of detailed patient stories.  This has been a powerful exercise highlighting many issues with our current service provision.

Following thorough engagement with local people and discussions with healthcare professionals we would like to roll out a number of initial improvements across the local area.

These initial improvements include making sure that:

  • people with especially complex palliative care needs will now have an improved level of care by extending the specialist palliative care service in Waltham Forest from five days a week to seven days a week
  • when people need support, they are connected with the right services, through introducing a single point of access and improved care co-ordination for support at end of life in Waltham Forest and Redbridge
  • essential medication is available to people who need it at home at any time by improving links with pharmacies out of normal working hours across the whole of north east London
  • people who choose to go into an inpatient palliative care facility, such as a hospice or The Margaret Centre, to receive care have the opportunity to do so by improving the referral pathway between services in both Waltham Forest and Redbridge
  • people needing end of life care in nursing homes will be better supported locally

We expect these changes to make significant improvements to the experience of people using end of life services and feel strongly that these improvements should be made as a priority.

Meanwhile, inpatient specialist palliative and end of life care will continue to be provided at Whipps Cross Hospital, both in the Margaret Centre and in an increasing number of general medical wards elsewhere in the hospital.

As these initial improvements are put in place we will carefully evaluate their impact and will then have the right data to be able to look fully at how inpatient beds are provided in the area.

No decisions about the future bed base across the catchment area have yet been made, as it is not clear what the impact of the proposed improvements to community services will be. It is therefore too soon to make firm recommendations about future bed-based options without the evidence of this impact.

We commit to continue engaging with local people on this work and to carry out a consultation on future bed-based services when there is enough evidence of impact from the initial improvements, and the right data is available, to do so.

An update report has been complied which provides more detail on improvements to be made.