Over 500,000 people die each year in England and Wales, and evidence shows that many receive suboptimal care. An anonymous charitable trust has made a substantial donation of £750,000 to the Cambridge Palliative and End of Life Care Group, where researchers are pressing forward with wide ranging discoveries about the experiences of people in the UK as they reach the end of their lives and new ways to improve care and support.
The donation is enabling the appointment of a new senior clinician – a University Lecturer – to lead the group’s research and teaching programme into the next phase of development.
Dr Stephen Barclay, University Senior Lecturer in General Practice and Palliative Care, who has shaped palliative and end of life care research at Cambridge over the last decade, said: “This is an important step in the development of our established programmes of research and teaching. At a time of new opportunities to develop our regional and national collaborations, we are delighted to announce this donation which has secured the future leadership of the Palliative and End of Life Care Group.”
The researchers at Cambridge are addressing a range of difficult questions about issues that might be uncomfortably be close to home for many of us at some point during our lives, such as:
- When should treatments be stopped for patients with incurable cancers?
- What palliative care do people need and how do care needs change in the final weeks and days of life?
- What new models of care are needed as the UK population becomes older, increasingly reaching the end of their lives with multiple medical conditions?
- How should patients, families and professionals make decisions about feeding and drinking with patients with progressive neurological diseases as death approaches?
- What is the evidence-base for current practice in end of life care?
Every cohort of Cambridge medical students – around 300 per annum – experiences the inspirational teaching delivered by the group, which has been described by the CEO of the General Medical Council as “an example of notable practice” in medical student education.
Dr Barclay explained: “We place great value on the opportunity to prepare the doctors of the future with the knowledge and skills they will all need to care for dying patients: we aim to help them develop positive attitudes towards this challenging area of clinical practice that will persist throughout their careers, whatever specialty they work in”.
Queries: Lucy Lloyd, Communications Manager, Primary Care Unit