Discussing end-of-life care at last week's Commissioning Show

by Emily Garside Service Developer Emily Garside - Service Development AnalystThe Commissioning Show, the country’s largest national event for clinical commissioning, took place at the Excel, London over 12 and 13 June. The show was attended by 6,000 delegates and 300 exhibitors from across the health and social care sector. They came to showcase their knowledge, network and learn from others about the work they had been doing to improve healthcare in their local areas. Marie Curie exhibited at the show. Over both days Marie Curie staff spoke to a variety of delegates about the work the charity has been doing to ensure that terminally ill people are given the best possible care at the end of their lives. It was encouraging to speak to designated Clinical Commissioning Groups’ (CCGs) end-of-life care leads. These discussions suggest that many CCGs have gauged the importance of good end-of-life care both for patients and families, and as a mechanism for delivering the government’s Quality, Innovation, Productivity, Prevention (QIPP) efficiency savings. The show also provided Marie Curie with a real opportunity to engage people in a dialogue; a forum in which healthcare professionals could discuss where there are gaps in end-of-life care services in their local areas.

Delivering excellence for patients and families

The show had a stream dedicated to long-term conditions which cost the NHS an estimated £77bn a year. This stream naturally incorporated end-of-life care and is where Marie Curie’s Chief Executive, Dr Jane Collins, presented on ‘What does excellence look like in commissioning for cancer?’ alongside Ciarán Devine, CEO of Macmillan Cancer Support, and Charles O’Hanlon, patient and associate director of delivery at NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group. Dr Collins spoke about the importance of pulling services together around the patient to ensure that people at the end of life can be cared for in the community as far as possible. Dr Collins used the Greenwich Care Partnership   and the Somerset Delivering Choice Programme   as examples of effective integrated end-of-life care models which reduce the demand for expensive and often distressing hospital admissions, while simultaneously improving the quality and experience of patient care at the end of life. Indeed the theme of integration was one which reoccurred throughout the show’s presentations regardless of which section of healthcare the speaker came from. Charles O’Hanlon, a Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor, explained how his second journey as a patient had been much better than his first, because of the provision of ambulatory care, which allowed him to recover from chemotherapy in a hotel rather than in hospital. Other themes which echoed throughout Dr Collins’ presentation and the presentations of other speakers were the importance of evidence led services and patient empowerment.

Optimism, passion and knowledge

Overall there was an atmosphere of tentative optimism pervading the commissioning show. With many examples of innovative healthcare services discussed by speakers, it seemed that the passion and knowledge to deliver the best outcomes for patients and their families are out there. However, only time will tell whether commissioners will use events like this to learn from each other, channelling this passion effectively by capitalising on current opportunities and delivering transformational change in patient care.