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Sunday 27th May 2018

Patients can die in agony

31st July 2006

01072006_Vaccination1.jpgMore than 18 months after the government was warned of serious shortages, diamorphine supplies are still being rationed leaving people to die in pain. 

The powerful drug, used to relieve the pain of cancer, heart attacks and severe injuries, is in limited supply and provision is not expected to rise until 2007.

Before the crisis, doctors had been using 20,000 ampoules a day, but since then only about half of that amount has been available.  The national shortage has been highlighted by the case of a Nottingham woman who died in agony from cancer when her carers were unable to get her diamorphine for the last two days of her life.


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Bernadette Devine

Wednesday 9th August 2006 @ 17:12

Following a recent BBC Radio 4 feature on palliative care provision, post-Shipman; it is clear that palliative care needs to remain high on the agenda as part of the overall pathway of care.

Some of the issues of poor end of life care also relate to the avoidance of truthful conversations around the approach of the palliative phase of care. This may apply to both professionals and patients. Good, pragmatic, proactive palliative management, including pain relief, and in-built matrix prescribing and administration options are essential.

This does not mean that all problems will be prevented however it increases the odds that problems can be managed effectively. With proactive management there should be less of a need for the emergency out of hour’s prescription response that is all too often required.

I have taken part in some work following five patients on their palliative journeys. It was a salutory experience. A small sample, with recurrent themes. Let's not scaremonger using the Shipman Inquiry, but do let's use the debate to create a climate of willingness to work along and across pathways for the benefit of the patient and their families. The emotional agony of parting should not be further compounded by physical agony.

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