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J R Soc Med. 2006 Dec;99(12):637-9.

Psychological services in hospices in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

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  • 1Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Psychological Medicine, Kings College London, Weston Education Centre, Cutcombe Road, London SE5 9RJ, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate the level of psychological services available to patients and staff in hospices.

DESIGN:

Questionnaire analysis.

SETTING:

Hospices in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

PARTICIPANTS:

224 hospices.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The availability of professional psychological support for those with advanced disease.

RESULTS:

Responses were received from 166 hospices (74%). Only 50 hospices (30%) have access to a psychiatrist, whilst 68 (41%) have access to a clinical psychologist and 92 (45%) have neither. Only 21 hospices (12%) have service level agreements with local mental health trusts. Counsellors, complementary therapists and spiritual advisors such as chaplains were more plentiful.

CONCLUSIONS:

Delivery of the NICE guidelines, especially tier four, may be compromised by limited availability of specialist services. This has implications for the psychological assessment of applicants for voluntary euthanasia under an Assisted Dying Act.

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