The IMPaCT (Integrated Mersey Palliative Care Team) model of care is designed to improve access for patients, their families, and professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic enabled implementation more quickly than envisaged.
Waiting times for medical appointments in our integrated palliative medicine service were in excess of two weeks, restricting the clinic system’s ability to deal with acute problems. The team recognised that routine medical review of patients is often unnecessary, and with this in mind, all the referrals for outpatients are now assessed by a nurse specialist triage coordinator and those requiring routine follow-up are now fed into the nurse-led telephone assessment clinics for monitoring. There is a junior and a senior palliative medicine doctor assigned to the ambulatory medical clinic in the IMPaCT hub at Woodlands Hospice from Monday to Friday.
There are a small number of pre-planned appointment slots for follow up, but the rest are used for urgent assessment of patients in person, by video consultation or by phone. Domiciliary visits can be undertaken if needed on the day.
All admission requests and advice calls to the ward now come to the hub which means that the calls come into doctors with the necessary time to deal with issues as they arise, co-ordinating with other members of the team as needed. This also means the medical team on the inpatient unit have more time to see their patients. Co-location of the ambulatory medical clinics with the nurse triage coordinators has improved working relationships and means that all settings have an awareness of which patients are most complex. Admissions to the hospice are now appropriately more complex and the waiting time reduced to within 24 hours in the majority of cases in December 2020. Waiting times for medical assessments has reduced to within 24 hours of the request.
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