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End of life helpline should be UK-wide, says widowed nurse

A pioneering helpline supporting palliative care patients in their final months is reducing hospital admissions. A nurse who works on the phoneline and lost her husband to renal failure says it should be rolled out nationally.

A nurse whose husband died at home is calling for the end of life helpline she staffs to be rolled out nationally

Nurse specialist in digital healthcare Alex Blake wants more relatives of patients to be able to access palliative advice and care via a specialist phoneline.

Gold Line provides 24-hour nurse-led advice and care to patients and their loved-ones in the final year of their lives.

The helpline, run by Airedale NHS Foundation Trust was not available 10 years ago when Ms Blakes husband, Iain, who had Type 1 diabetes, died of renal failure.

He wanted to be managed at home, regardless of what the consequences could be. That [decision] was freeing for us

A nurse whose husband died at home is calling for the end of life helpline she staffs to be rolled out nationally


Specialist in digital healthcare, Alex Blake, wants everyone to be able to access a helpline
offering advice and care to patients nearing end of life. 

Nurse specialist in digital healthcare Alex Blake wants more relatives of patients to be able to access palliative advice and care via a specialist phoneline.

Gold Line provides 24-hour nurse-led advice and care to patients – and their loved-ones – in the final year of their lives.

The helpline, run by Airedale NHS Foundation Trust was not available 10 years ago when Ms Blake’s husband, Iain, who had Type 1 diabetes, died of renal failure.

‘He wanted to be managed at home, regardless of what the consequences could be. That [decision] was freeing for us because we were able to make the most of his last 12 months without all the acute interventions,’ Ms Blake said.

However, she can see how Gold Line would have provided additional support in Iain’s final months by assisting with care needs, allowing her more time to spend with him.

Nurses order equipment for patients, assist with pain-relief, provide emotional support to them and their families, and can do direct referrals to other services such as hospitals.

Covering area

The service is currently only available to patients within Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven.

In the year up until the end of March 2016, there were 2,322 referrals to Gold Line in a population with around 4,313 deaths per year.

Of 7,242 calls made to the service, 96.9% were able to remain at home after taking advice from the line staffed by around five nurses per day during the week and seven at the weekend. Two nurses cover the night shift.

Ms Blake said: ‘This service should be rolled-out nationally. Not everyone is set up to provide this service but we are. We have a cost-effective service that reduces hospital admissions and improves the care of patients at end of life; so it’s a no-brainer.’

Making the transition

The trust is already commissioned to provide telemedicine services for care homes from London to Carlisle with access to local GPs and district nurses.

Trust interim director of nursing Jill Asbury said: ‘Nurses are traditionally face-to-face with patients, where they are able to rely on the benefits of close scrutiny and therapeutic touch. With a screen or phone consultation they need to use their emotional intelligence much more, and it can take a little while to make that transition. 

However, our nurses who work on Gold Line and in telemedicine report that they feel just as comfortable delivering care this way.’

Further Information

Find out more about Gold Line


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