End of life care in Wisbech could be under threat thanks to a mix-up over contract

There's a question mark over the future of palliative care services in Wisbech.
There's a question mark over the future of palliative care services in Wisbech.

There’s a question mark over the future of a health service which looks after dying patients in their homes, it has been revealed this week.

Health bosses are currently trying to negotiate a deal that would see the home-based palliative care provided by Macmillan nurses continue after the end of March.

The issue was highlighted to the Citizen by a concerned Wisbech resident who had heard the service was under threat from the end of next month and it appears a mix-up over a contract is to blame.

A spokesman for Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH) confirmed there was an issue and explained: “Eighteen months ago we took over the palliative care provision in the West Norfolk area which had also included an element of provision to Wisbech.

“Historically this included provision of home-based palliative care in Wisbech, but this did not form part of the contract.

“NCH NHS Trust have meanwhile been covering the resulting gap and continuing to provide excellent care to our Wisbech patients, while discussions are ongoing with local care commissioners and local health and social care providers about the future provision for patients in Wisbech.”

Wisbech councillor Virginia Bucknor said: “This is potentially devastating news for Wisbech people and those in the villages.

“This is such a vital service for people who are dealing with a very difficult situation. This is such an important service it is difficult to understand how it could have been left out of a contract.

“Something must be done to ensure the service continues beyond the end of next month so people who are at their final time in life can receive the care they need in their own homes, rather than having to go into hospital or a hospice.”

A spokesman for Macmillan said: “At Macmillan we are continually working with partners, commissioners and patients to shape services that meet the needs of the local population.

“This enables us to have a flexible approach to service provision and reach as many people affected by cancer as possible.

“We have a number of successful services that support people at different stages of their cancer journey and will continue to work with our partners whilst discussions are ongoing about the future provision of palliative care in Wisbech.”

We are awaiting a comment from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group which is responsible for commissioning the service.

For further advice and information about cancer, please call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit www.macmillan.org.uk