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OCCG Response to Henley Standard Article

OCCG's Statement in response to “Don’t Come Here to Die” :
An article published by the Henley Standard on Friday 9th October 2015 presents a misleading picture of the availability of treatment for terminally ill patients in South East Oxfordshire and what will be provided at the new Townlands Health Campus in Henley on Thames.  This is a far from accurate portrayal of health care provision which may cause unnecessary worry and anxiety to patients, their families and carers. 
We are extremely concerned that anyone reading the story could think that they would be refused treatment. This is why we are taking the opportunity to provide the correct information about how terminally ill patients are cared for and what services will be available to patients at the Rapid Access Care Unit (RACU), when it opens on the redeveloped Townlands health campus. 
The current inpatient service at the Townlands Peppard Ward does not provide an end of life service.  
This will not change under the new model of care which will be provided to local people through the new Townlands Rapid Access Care Unit or associated intermediate care beds at the Orders of St John Care Trust. 
End of life care includes palliative care, but there is an important distinction to be made between the two. 
End of life care describes support for people who are in the last months or typically the last year of their life. However, if you have an illness that can’t be cured, palliative care makes you as comfortable as possible, by managing your pain and any other distressing symptoms.  
Palliative care isn’t just for the end of life. Patients may receive palliative care earlier in their illness while they are still receiving other therapies to treat their condition.  
Patients living in the Henley area who require end of life care will continue to do so through the services that are already in place to provide the specialist care that is needed to meet their needs as they near the end of their lives. In South East Oxfordshire, there is a strong link with the highly regarded palliative care services provided by the Sue Ryder Hospice in Nettlebed.  
There may be times when a patient who is receiving palliative care for a terminal illness develops a secondary problem that would benefit from treatment at the Townlands Rapid Access Care Unit (RACU). 
Before any decisions are made about sending a patient to the RACU, there will be a clinician to clinician discussion about the patient’s particular needs and the most medically appropriate way for that individual to be treated.  
Unfortunately, there may be occasions when someone with a life limiting illness will die as a result of a secondary condition  An example may be someone who has been receiving palliative care for years for cancer, may develop a severe chest infection, secondary to their cancer.  The infection could be treated at the RACU and could potentially be the primary cause of death.  The palliative care that this patient would have received prior to developing pneumonia would not be provided at the Townlands RACU. 
We very much recognise the importance of end of life care for those patients who are dying. Our aim is to deliver the highest quality end of life care for patients and their families by: 
 Ensuring we commission services which can provide the necessary care for patients and their families supporting them throughout this journey helping people to die in dignity and in comfort 
 Offering a holistic approach with additional support to help bereaved families once their loved ones have died. 
 Enabling patients to be able to have a say and input in designing their care. 
For information about palliative and end of life care in Oxfordshire can be found on our website http://www.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/your-health/end-of-life-care/