Aim Access to good quality out-of-hours medical care is important in every aspect of medicine, not least to patients with palliative care needs who are suffering from complex chronic medical conditions or approaching end-of-life. A review of the current out-of-hours service at The Ayrshire Hospice is in progress, aiming to assess the needs and requirements of their out-of-hours service and looking for possibilities to adapt the service if needed.
Method An initial cycle of data collection was performed from 15 November 2021 to 03 January 2022, looking at the call volume, content, origin and outcome for The Ayrshire Hospice during out-of-hours, defined as 5pm to 9am weekdays and from 5pm Friday to 9am Monday over the weekends.
Results A total of 73 calls were recorded by the in-patient unit at the hospice and 49 calls recorded by the medical team. 51% of all calls taken by the medical team went directly to them rather than being transferred from the in-patient unit, 65% of calls resulted in verbal advice being given by the medical team, medical staff attended the in-patient unit as a result of a call on three occasions (6%) and second on call was activated on seven occasions and the busiest times for out-of-hours advice calls were shown to be over the weekend.
Conclusion The data collected should allow the organisation to review the call volume and content, allowing them to review the skills needed by the out of-hours team to allow for prioritisation and focus on areas for improvement such as education and staff required for out-of-hours cover. However, given the fairly limited data collected and various challenges faced during the data collection period, further data collection cycles will be needed before final conclusions can be made on these areas.
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