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UK's first Macmillan bereavement nurse starts work

A hospital in Essex has appointed the UK’s first dedicated Macmillan bereavement nurse.
Karen Harford Macmillan specialist bereavement nurse

A hospital in Essex has appointed the UKs first dedicated Macmillan bereavement nurse.

Basildon University Hospital has hired Karen Harford to support patients, relatives and staff.

Her recruitment comes as part of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts dandelion project, aimed at improving end of life care.

Ms Harford, who has a background in intensive care nursing, organ and tissue donation, and critical care outreach, wants to run focused teaching with ICU staff about difficult conversations with families.

Bereavement boxes

She said: Its about empowering and supporting staff, advising them how to talk to relatives and following the right protocol.

I see my role as normalising death, helping

A hospital in Essex has appointed the UK’s first dedicated Macmillan bereavement nurse.


Left to right: Karen Harford, bereavement nurse specialist at Basildon University Hospital,
Karen Andrews, head of nursing for Macmillan and end of life services,
and Dawn Patience, director of nursing.

Basildon University Hospital has hired Karen Harford to support patients, relatives and staff.

Her recruitment comes as part of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s dandelion project, aimed at improving end of life care.

Ms Harford, who has a background in intensive care nursing, organ and tissue donation, and critical care outreach, wants to run focused teaching with ICU staff about difficult conversations with families.

Bereavement boxes

She said: ‘It’s about empowering and supporting staff, advising them how to talk to relatives and following the right protocol.

‘I see my role as normalising death, helping people understand that end of life does not mean end of care.

Her first job will be to deliver bereavement boxes to every ward in the trust. Funded by a £10,000 donation from B&M Retail Ltd, they contain property bags, memory boxes and a tea set.

Lasting memory

A wedding box has also been created for the chaplain team, making available champagne flutes, a bridal bouquet and button holes for short-notice weddings.

Trust director of nursing Dawn Patience said: ‘End of life care is everyone’s responsibility. Staff have one chance to get it right – one chance to create a lasting memory for a bereaved family.'

Karen Andrews, head of nursing for Macmillan and end of life services, added: ‘We want wards to take ownership and adapt the boxes as they go, adding in things they think are needed.


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