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GPs and practice staff offered emotional wellbeing service to cope with caring for dying patients

by Emily Roberts
20 November 2023

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GPs and practice staff in the Humber and North Yorkshire area who have been affected by end-of-life care or bereavement in their work with patients are being offered emotional support under a year-long pilot project.  

Funded by Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership and commissioned by the Integrated Care Board (ICB), Just ‘B’ Reflective Spaces is an emotional wellbeing service available to all primary care staff across the region, including GPs, surgery staff, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists.  

The service provides free, confidential supervision and support to staff distressed by end-of-life care or bereavement in their work, including one-to-one support, group supervision and a dedicated phone support line, open 8am to 8pm seven days a week.  Individuals can self-refer to the service.  

A key element of the project is the introduction of Schwartz Rounds – a structured forum where staff can come together in a confidential space to talk, reflect and support each other.  

As part of this, a steering group is being established made up of clinical and non-clinical disciplines across primary care to help spread the word and contribute to themes.  

The service is jointly run by Herriot Hospice Homecare, Saint Michael’s Hospice, and Just ‘B’, and offered via North Yorkshire Hospice Care – a registered charity helping people to live with terminal illness and bereavement.  

The pilot was set up because of the emotional toll on practitioners who come into contact with patients or clients who require end-of-life care and / or bereavement support.  

Those behind the project recognise that, without the right emotional support, it can have a negative impact on individuals, teams and the workforce. The service aims to provide this support when it is most needed.  

The pilot is currently scheduled to finish in May 2024.  It is available to practitioners and staff working Humber and North Yorkshire, including the districts of North Yorkshire, York, East Yorkshire and North and North East Lincolnshire.

Karen Hiley, Workforce Transformation Leader – Community and Primary Care, Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, said: ‘When someone requires end of life care or passes away, it can take an emotional toll on those working in health and care who supported and cared for them and their families. 

‘We recognise the impact a bereavement can have and are pleased to commission this pilot scheme to help those who might be affected.  

‘Post-pandemic, it’s a challenging and often stressful time for people working in health and care, but the partnership is committed to supporting its people.’

Tony Collins, Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Hospice Care said this was an ‘important service.’

‘He added: ‘The suite of confidential support is available now, free at the point-of-need, and we encourage those working in primary care across North Yorkshire and the Humber to reach out if they feel they’d benefit from accessing the service.’

Staff wanting to self-refer, access the telephone helpline or find out more about the support available can do so here.