Minister’s high praise for ‘Rapid Response’

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Finance Minister Simon Hamilton put on his ‘health hat’ last week when he visited Ballymena to promote Marie Curie’s Rapid Response Service.

He called in at the Dalriada urgent Care centre in the town to see how the project is helping people living with a terminal illess.

More than 600 calls and home visits have been made to people living with a terminal illness during the first three months of 2015 as a result of a significant investment in the Marie Curie Rapid Response Service. The service is helping to reduce the need for these patients to be admitted to hospital.

Delivered by Marie Curie palliative care nurses, working in partnership with the local out of hours units such as Dalriada, the service provides prompt and timely response to calls for care and assistance, telephone advice to families and patients who may not need a home visit, and urgent at home care to patients.

The service operates on an out of hours basis, seven days a week providing cover during evenings, and on a 24/7 basis at weekends and bank holidays in the Southern and Northern Trust areas.

After seeing the local operation, Minister Hamilton said: “This is an excellent example of how, through working in partnership, more people can be supported to be cared for at home at the end of life.

“The Rapid Response Service not only provides access to high quality care and advice for people with terminal illness, but also affords peace of mind for families and carers at a difficult and stressful time.”

Commenting on the new service Paula Heneghan, Regional Manager, Marie Curie Nursing Service added: “Our new pilot service will not only provide those living with a terminal illness greater access to Marie Curie services, but will also help extend the existing GP Out of Hours service in key areas across Northern Ireland.

“We know from research that patients with a terminal illness prefer to be treated away from hospital, and where possible, in their own homes.

“The Marie Curie rapid response service allows us to meet this need head-on, ensuring patients receive care where they want it and when they need it.”Rapid Response is a tried and tested service which has been running successfully in the evenings, on a week day basis in the Southern and Northern Trust areas since 2008.

Dean Sullivan, Director of Commissioning, Health and Social Care Board said, “This new enhanced service strengthens the service already currently provided by GP Out of Hours and increases access to palliative care services at home. It minimises the need for patients to be transferred at the end of life by ambulance to emergency departments, giving peace of mind to loved ones at a stressful time. Investment in this service aligns with the work under the Transforming Your Palliative and End of Life Care initiative and we are delighted to be able to partner with Marie Curie in delivering this.”

Marie Curie is the leading charity providing care to people living with any terminal illness in their own homes or in one of its nine hospices. The charity is also a leader in research into the best ways of caring for people with a terminal illness.

In addition to this the charity designs and advises on end of life services and works to ensure that the best possible care and patient choice is at the heart of commissioning end of life care across the UK. Around 70% of the charity’s income comes from donations with the balance of funds coming from the NHS.