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Palliative care concerns raised

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Palliative care concerns raised

A CONCERNED councillor has warned of a potential palliative care crisis across Dumfries and Galloway as severe winter pressures on health services kick in.

Pauline Drysdale spoke out after experiencing a challenging healthcare situation in her own family.

One of her relatives required palliative care but there were no beds available in the Alexandra Unit at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary at that time.

Councillor Drysdale said: “We’re going to have a lot of palliative care this winter and I’m extremely concerned that people in the community are going to be left without essential support or the knowledge as to how to deal with the situation they find themselves in. The choice of going into hospital, or a palliative care unit, is sometimes taken away at the moment because of the bed blocking situation.”

Councillor Drysdale’s family had some previous experience with palliative care and so all helped care for their relative before they passed away.

She said: “We were in a position to cope but a lot of families don’t have the ability to fend for themselves in situations such as this.

“You could have a patient lying there requiring pain relief or certain medications at end of life, and you need the knowledge as to whom to turn to for emergency help or at what stage to ask the incredible Marie Curie teams to kick in.

“I understand that not everyone wants to go to a cottage hospital to die, or to be alone in a hospital bed. But if we’re going to have care in the community, the Home Teams across the whole region need to be operating more efficiently and members of the public do need clearer guidance.”

She has raised her concerns with the council and NHS and wants clear guidance to be made available to ensure patients are as comfortable as possible.

The councillor said: “We need a leaflet with directions for families and a list of contact numbers so that people know where to turn and get the help they need.

“Whilst the incredible community nursing teams, district nurses, OT’s, social workers, physios, dieticians, pharmacists, physicians and so on are doing all that they can to provide the best service possible, I feel we will all be reliant on sensible and clearly communicated guidance going forward.”

A spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: “Palliative care continues to be provided in a number of ways, rather than through one singular approach, and is focused around the need of the individual. Provision includes care within the home, within cottage hospitals, within Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and within Galloway Community Hospital.

“Assessments are made around requirements, and the optimal use of the specialist palliative care beds and team.”

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