Talking hospitals and palliative care in Glasgow

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Merryn writes…

I was fortunate to be invited to speak in Glasgow today at a symposium organised by Marie Curie Scotland exploring end of life care in hospitals. We were discussing findings from a three country study, building on the initial work of Professor David Clark regarding imminence of dying amongst hospital inpatients. He found that 8% of people who were resident in a Scottish hospital on one particular date died during that admission. And almost 30% of people had died within 12 months. We then replicated this study in Denmark (led by Lene Jarlbaek) and New Zealand. With very different findings! New Zealand in particular had a much lower proportion of people dying, both during the admission, and within 12 months. I explored reasons for why that would be including the different age structures of the hospital populations, potential differences in palliative care management in hospital between NZ and the UK, and the greater role Residential Aged Care plays in end of life management, and as a place of death, in New Zealand. We then had a really good discussion with a very engaged audience. Ultimately, we concluded that there is a positive role for hospitals at end of life, but, as I argued in a recent editorial, we need to critically discuss what that should be. And this leads to lots more questions. How can hospital culture be changed? What is the role of hospitals in society? Will hospitals even exist in 50 years time? Much food for thought. And work to do!


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