Full programme transcript >>
In this episode of Case Notes, Dr Mark Porter looks at palliative care – a burgeoning speciality dedicated to looking after people whose illnesses are advanced, progressive and incurable, with the aim of achieving the best possible quality of life for both the patient and their family.
His guest in the studio is John Ellershaw, Professor of Palliative Medicine at the University of Liverpool and Director of the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute.
When it comes to treating moderate to severe pain, there is nothing better than morphine and related drugs from the opiate family, but they have a mixed reputation.
It's often thought that opiates cause unwanted side effects such as sedation, loss of control and addiction, but in reality, when used properly, drugs like morphine are extremely safe, and the only troublesome side effect with long term use tends to be constipation.
Dr Claud Regnard, Consultant in Palliative Care Medicine at St Oswald’s Hospital in Newcastle, helps Mark to correct the misconceptions that surround morphine.
End of Life Care Programme
The NHS's End of Life Care Programme is designed to help a range of different carers meet the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the dying.
This includes the Liverpool Care Pathway – a guide to carers to help them identify and deal with problems that may arise in the last few days or hours before a person dies.
It was developed to take the best standards of care from within hospices and extend them to hospitals and other settings.
David Wilkinson, a staff nurse at the Whiston Hospital on Merseyside, describes how the pathway forms the backbone of the care of the terminally ill.
And Mark hears how adoption of the programme varies depending on where the person is being cared for.