Dying lose on mental health
Hospice patients have woefully inadequate access to mental health services, a new survey shows.
GPs were urged to intervene to ensure patients receive suitable care, after 41 per cent of hospices admitted to difficulties in accessing services.
Just 13 per cent of 224 hospices assessed in the UK and Ireland had service agreements with local mental health trusts.
Some 45 per cent did not have access to either a psychiatrist or a psychologist, with only 35 per cent reporting good access to emergency psychiatric care out of hours.
The report, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, concluded that even if mental health professionals were accessible, they were 'often only available on an ad hoc basis'.
The researchers, based at King's College, London, warn-ed: 'Access to mental health professionals in hospices was too limited to fulfil the current NICE guidelines.'
Dr Kavi Sharma, a GP in Sunderland and MacMillan GP facilitator on palliative care, said he wasn't surprised by the findings, and GPs needed to intervene on behalf of their patients.
Dr Sharma said: 'I believe GPs should be in charge, to ensure patients get the services they need. They should be making some noises if patients are not receiving the right level of care.
'These are people who can't wait. Patients in end-of-life care deserve to have more advocacy from their GP, not just in mental health provision but in all aspects of care.'