“I get the tram to work, and in that one journey from the South to the North of the city, there’s a 12-year life expectancy gap. Because our hospital (North Manchester Greater Hospital, where Matt is Medical Director) covers one of the most deprived areas in the UK, we were particularly impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m conscious that there are a lot of hospitals and hospices that don’t have equity of access to palliative medicine support – so we set up Supportive Care UK (SCUK) to try and bridge that gap”.
But what, you might ask, does a Manchester-based Professor and Medical Director have to do with ellenor – a hospice servicing life-limited patients and their families within the Kent and Bexley communities – over 230 miles away?
ellenor engaged the services of SCUK – a team of highly qualified, hand-picked palliative care consultants – in 2020. SCUK’s consultants – Professor Makin among them – support the doctors and nurses of ellenor’s Northfleet-based inpatient ward (IPW) with expert guidance and advice in palliative medicine, as well as providing a rigorous system of governance.
By hosting weekly virtual meetings with ellenor’s staff, SCUK’s consultants offer ellenor’s doctors a sounding board, allowing them to present the cases and patients they want to discuss.
“We meet via Microsoft Teams to have a catch-up, and to check in”, Matt explains. “The first conversation, from me to them, is ‘how are you guys – how’s your week been?’. We check in on each other’s wellbeing, first. We talk about the deaths, the discharges, any incidents, and any things they need to reflect on – then we talk about the patients.”
It’s an innovative approach that works for all parties and helps ellenor fulfil its ultimate mission and promise – to provide high quality care to life-limited patients, and their families, within the local Kent and Bexley communities.
“The really nice thing about ellenor’s relationship with SCUK is that it’s based on mutual trust and respect – that’s the very foundation of it. I’ve travelled down to ellenor – met the staff, visited the units – and seen through my own eyes the kind of fantastic work ellenor does.
“From that perspective, I see myself as augmenting what’s already there. I put a check and a challenge in. ‘Why have you decided to do that? Have you thought about doing this differently? Have we considered the question of mental capacity, and the issues around the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoSL)?’. Invariably, they have”.
In addition to this extra layer of assurances and governance, ellenor’s doctors have also benefited from SCUK’s integrated teaching – much of which is provided by Professor Makin himself.