AN OXFORD doctor has been appointed as an adviser to the NHS on end of life care.
Dr Bee Wee, who is based at Sir Michael Sobell House, the hospice at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital, is a leading authority on palliative medicine.
The appointment comes as controversy continues to surround the Liverpool Care Pathway, that allows doctors to withdraw care from patients. Critics say it amounts to a “back door form of euthanasia”.
The doctor, currently president of the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland, becomes one of 21 clinical directors appointed to provide expert advice on conditions ranging from obesity and diabetes to critical care.
Dr Wee, head of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Palliative Care in Oxford, said: “I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to build on the End of Life Care Strategy launched in 2008.
“We must continue to improve end of life care for patients, their families and close friends wherever they are; at home, in hospital, in care homes, hospices and other places where people die.
“Crucially, we must ensure that the best care is available when patients and families are at their most vulnerable – often out of hours, especially at night and at weekends.
“Many people get good care much of the time. Our aim should be that everyone gets good care all the time.
“To achieve this we must find out what gets in the way of good experiences, by, among other things, asking the patients and families what matters most to them and seeking ways to address these.”
Earlier in the year Dr Wee moved to calm concerns about the Liverpool Care Pathway, which was introduced in Oxfordshire three years ago and used in a number of wards at Oxford’s John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals and the Horton Hospital in Banbury.
Within the area covered by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust the pathway was used in 209 cases in 2011/12, while nationally it is thought to be used in the deaths of 130,000 hospital patients each year.