Peter Nightingale reflects on the first year of a fruitful partnership

Dr Peter NightingaleThis month marks one year since the start of the three-year partnership between Marie Curie and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). The aim of this partnership is to help GPs improve end of life care provided to their patients. One of the first steps was the appointment of Dr Peter Nightingale, a new clinical lead for end of life care, who works part-time with the RCGP and Marie Curie. He is also Commissioning Lead for Lancashire North. In this interview, Peter discusses his role and what to expect in the coming years of the partnership.

As a commissioning GP, what are the challenges for end of life care?

The main challenge for commissioning end of life care services is raising the profile of end of life care so that it becomes a priority. Thankfully there is excellent guidance available from the Kings Fund and the RCGP. There is constant pressure to deliver more for less in primary care, so the RCGP Put Patients First Campaign is important to support future service provision as is effective partnership working with organisations such as Marie Curie.

What has been the highlight of your role so far?

The highlight of this year has been delivering a series of end of life care commissioning workshops. These were lively, interactive events aimed at commissioners of end of life care, their service transformation leads and contract managers. There was a genuine will and determination from so many participants to improve care, and I think I helped and supported them. A new experience for me was taking part in a Twitter chat. Again, I think this was helpful to commissioners, and being a non-tweeter it was an amazing experience.

Will we be seeing more of you on Twitter?

I will probably let my colleague and Fellow, Dr Adam Firth, take the lead in this area as he has excellent IT and media skills and I discovered it was not my forte!

What is there to look forward to in the second year of the partnership?

I am looking forward this year to working with partners to deliver a multidisciplinary educational course that helps professionals develop their skills. We will incorporate learning objectives identified in the Liverpool Care Pathway review and Voices surveys. In the second year we have identified five key areas of focus:

  1. Improving communication, especially improving IT systems and website development.

  2. Continuing to help commissioners understand the issues and prioritise end of life care.

  3. Influencing policy and legislation.

  4. Helping to educate the workforce and building on the work of the Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People

  5. Strengthening partnerships with others working to improve end of life care.