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Right Arrow Trust’s ‘gold card’ care for poorly patients
28 February 2013 at 16:45
Patients who may be approaching the end of their lives are benefitting from a more joined up approach to care thanks to the golden touch of heathcare staff.

That’s because Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust is marking the third anniversary this month of being the first whole UK hospital to be signed up to the Gold Standards Framework (GSF).

GSF is a nationally recognised programme that aims to improve the experience for patients in the final months and years of life, and their families.

“Care homes and GPs were already familiar with GSF but the hospital was the missing link needed to complete the circle,” said Dr Karen Groves, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, who began a six-month GSF pilot at the Trust in February 2010.

Since then she has seen big improvements in the wishes and needs of patients being taken into account now health and social care professionals are using the common language of the GSF.

“Most patients will tell you that they want to be cared for and die at home but a surprising number still die in hospital. It’s not practical to change that figure for everyone but GSF makes sure we’re better placed to do our best – for example, rapidly discharging patients who have said they prefer to be cared for outside hospital.

“Patients appreciate GSF. They feel special and empowered. We give them a ‘gold card’ they can show other health professionals and this helps identify them as patients with specific needs,” said Dr Groves.

A survey of patients following the pilot backed this up with 84% looking forward to improved coordination of their care and 92% believing GSF would help health professionals communicate better about their care.

However, Dr Groves acknowledges there is still much to do.

“Across north Sefton and West Lancashire 2,600 people are likely to die in a typical year. Of these 20% will die suddenly or following a short period of illness and 40% are known to specialist palliative care services. That leaves just over 1,000 who have life-limiting conditions who still need support.”

Case study: Gold standard care worked for me

Peter Lord is very poorly with prostate cancer which has spread to other parts of his body.

He began hormone treatment in late 2011 after being diagnosed at Southport and Formby District General Hospital. But the treatment eventually stopped being effective and he moved on the chemotherapy and radiotherapy until they stopped working too.

Since the New Year Peter has taken Abiraterone tablets, one of a new generation of life-extending “wonder drugs”.

“Some patients have survived for years,” says Peter, a 69-year-old former social work manager from Southport.

He has nothing but praise for the Gold Standards Framework which he learned about from his GP.

“I was very poorly in September and spent four days in hospital but was treated very well thanks to GSF,” said Peter.

“Lots of professionals visited me on the second day but I didn’t have to keep repeating my story as often happens. They all knew where I was up to, although they came from different teams. It was as though they were one team.

“I was very pleasantly surprised. The treatment really was gold standard,” added Peter, who lives with wife Shelagh, 58, a retired clinical psychologist.

They have been together for nine years and married in January 2012 at Southport Register Office

“We are determined to be strong and make the most of our lives, living well on the good days and surviving the bad. When you are poorly timescales change – if it’s a good day you need to make the most of it.”

Issued by Tony Ellis, marketing and communications manager
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

Telephone 01704 704494

Notes for editors

1. Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust manages Southport and Formby District General Hospital and Ormskirk and District General Hospital. It is also responsible for many community healthcare services for adults in Southport, Formby and West Lancashire. The Trust provides healthcare to a population of 258,000 people and employs 3,500 staff.