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1.  Impact of the Marie Curie Cancer Care Delivering Choice Programme in Somerset and North Somerset on place of death and hospital usage: a retrospective cohort study 
The Marie Curie Cancer Care Delivering Choice Programme (DCP) aims to help palliative patients be cared for in their place of choice. In this study, new palliative care services delivered in two counties in England included end-of-life care coordination centres, an out-of-hours telephone line and discharge in-reach nurses. The study aimed to investigate the impact of DCP on place of death and hospital usage (emergency department (ED) and admissions).
Retrospective cohort of all eligible palliative patients who died over a 6-month period in two counties (n=3594). Participants were those who died of conditions considered to be eligible for end-of-life care, as defined by the Public Health England National End of Life Care Intelligence Network. The sample included people who did and did not access DCP services. DCP service, hospital admission and ED use data, demographic and death data were collected on all eligible participants. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression.
After adjusting for potential confounders, those using Delivering Choice were at least 30% less likely to die in hospital or have an emergency hospital admission or ED visit in the last 30 or 7 days of life than those who did not.
Recipients of DCP services were less likely to die in or use hospital services. Those considering new ways of providing end-of-life care could explore the possibility of adopting similar services and evaluating the outcomes from patient, carer and system perspectives.
PMCID: PMC4345906  PMID: 24838731
palliative care; hospitalization; cohort studies
2.  Management of suspected infectious diarrhoea by English GPs: are they right? 
The criteria used when GPs submit stool specimens for microbiological investigation are unknown.
To determine what criteria GPs use to send stool specimens, and if they are consistent with national guidance, and whether GPs would prescribe an antibiotic before they receive a result.
Design and setting
Questionnaire survey of 974 GPs in 172 surgeries in England.
GPs were sent a questionnaire (23 questions) based on national guidance.
Questionnaires were returned by 90% (154/172) of surgeries and 49% (477/968) of GPs. GPs reported sending stool specimens in about 50% of cases of suspected infectious diarrhoea, most commonly because of individual symptoms, rather than public health implications. Fewer considered sampling with antibiotic-associated diarrhoea post hospitalisation, or children with acute, painful, bloody diarrhoea; only 14% mentioned outbreaks as a reason. Nearly one-half of GPs reported they would consider antibiotics in suspected cases of Escherichia coli O157, which is contraindicated. Only 23% of GPs would send the recommended three specimens for ova, cysts, and parasites (OCP) examination. Although 89% of GPs gave some verbal advice on how to collect stool specimens, only 2% of GPs gave patients any written instructions.
GPs need more education to address gaps in knowledge about the risks and diagnosis of different infections in suspected infectious diarrhoea, especially Clostridium difficile post-antibiotics, E. coli O157, and requesting OCPs. Advice on reports, tick boxes, or links to guidance on electronic request forms may facilitate this.
PMCID: PMC3876145  PMID: 24567579
antibiotics; diarrhoea; E. coli O157; general practice; guidance; investigation
3.  What works in ‘real life’ to facilitate home deaths and fewer hospital admissions for those at end of life?: results from a realist evaluation of new palliative care services in two English counties 
BMC Palliative Care  2014;13:37.
We evaluated end of life care services in two English counties including: coordination centres, telephone advice line, ‘Discharge in Reach’ nurses, a specialist community personal care team and community nurse educators. Elsewhere, we published findings detailing high family carer satisfaction and fewer hospital admissions, Accident and Emergency attendances and hospital deaths for service users compared to controls. The aim of this paper is to discuss what contributed to those outcomes.
Using realist evaluation, data collection included documentation (e.g. referral databases), 15 observations of services and interviews with 43 family carers and 105 professionals. Data were analysed using framework analysis, applying realist evaluation concepts. Findings were discussed at successive team meetings and further data was collected until team consensus was reached.
Services ‘worked’ primarily for those with cancer with ‘fast track’ funding who were close to death. Factors contributing to success included services staffed with experienced palliative care professionals with dedicated (and sufficient) time for difficult conversations with family carers, patients and/or clinical colleagues about death and the practicalities of caring for the dying. Using their formal and informal knowledge of the local healthcare system, they accessed community resources to support homecare and delivered excellent services. This engendered confidence and reassurance for staff, family carers and patients, possibly contributing to less hospital admissions and A&E attendances and more home deaths.
With demand for 24-hour end of life care growing and care provision fragmented across health and social care boundaries, services like these that cut across organisational sectors may become more important. They offer an overview to help navigate those desiring a home death through the system.
PMCID: PMC4114793  PMID: 25075202
4.  Stool submission by general practitioners in SW England - when, why and how? A qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:77.
We know little about when and why general practitioners (GPs) submit stool specimens in patients with diarrhoea. The recent UK-wide intestinal infectious disease (IID2) study found ten GP consultations for every case reported to national surveillance. We aimed to explore what factors influence GP’s decisions to send stool specimens for laboratory investigation, and what guidance, if any, informs them.
We used qualitative methods that enabled us to explore opinions and ask open questions through 20 telephone interviews with GPs with a range of stool submission rates in England, and a discussion group with 24 GPs. Interviews were transcribed and subjected to content analysis.
Interviews: GPs only sent stool specimens to microbiology if diarrhoea persisted for over one week, after recent travel, or the patient was very unwell. Very few had a systematic approach to determine the clinical or public health need for a stool specimen. Only two GPs specifically asked patients about blood in their stool; only half asked about recent antibiotics, or potential food poisoning, and few asked about patients’ occupations. Few GPs gave patients advice on how to collect specimens.
Results from interviews and discussion group in relation to guidance: All reported that the HPA stool guidance and patient collection instructions would be useful in their clinical work, but only one GP (an interviewee) had previously accessed them. The majority of GPs would value links to guidance on electronic requests. Most GPs were surprised that a negative stool report did not exclude all the common causes of IID.
GPs value stool culture and laboratories should continue to provide it. Patient instructions on how to collect stool specimens should be within stool collection kits. Through readily accessible guidance and education, GPs need to be encouraged to develop a more systematic approach to eliciting and recording details in the patient’s history that indicate greater risk of severe infection or public health consequences. Mild or short duration IID (under one week) due to any cause is less likely to be picked up in national surveillance as GPs do not routinely submit specimens in these cases.
PMCID: PMC3481435  PMID: 22870944
Stool specimens; Microbiology; Laboratory submission; Diarrhoea; Primary care; Qualitative; National guidance

Results 1-4 (4)