To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services relating to a review of out of hours bereavement arrangements at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report relating to a review of out of hours bereavement arrangements at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT).
The following were in attendance for this item:
· Cllr Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships
· Cllr Salma Arif, Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles
· Caroline Baria, Interim Director of Adults and Health
· Victoria Eaton, Director of Public Health
· Rob Newton, Associate Director of Policy and Partnerships, Leeds Teaching Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT)
· Mike Philpott, General Manager Pathology, LTHT
· John Adams, Medical Director (Governance and Risk), LTHT
· Reece Wolfenden, Lead Service Manager for Bereavement and Medical Examiner Services, LTHT
· The Rev’d Ben Rhodes, Head of Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care, LTHT
In introducing this item, the Chair explained that in September 2019, the Adults, Health and Active Lifestyles Scrutiny Board had received a briefing from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) regarding changes to its out of hours bereavement arrangements aimed at improving the experience of bereaved families. Such changes involved the introduction of new processes to enable the timely release of deceased adult patients for ceremonial and burial purposes for religious and cultural reasons. However, the Chair explained that the Trust is now undertaking a further review of its out of hours bereavement arrangements and was therefore invited to today’s meeting to engage with the Scrutiny Board at this early stage of the review process.
The Board received a presentation that was led by the Medical Director (Governance and Risk) at LTHT. The key points raised during this presentation were as follows:
Ø The Trust currently operates a 24 hour service, with the out of hours service operating on weekday evenings (from 16:30 onwards) and at weekends.
Ø The responsibility for releasing deceased adult patients to funeral directors out of hours is taken on by Clinical Site Managers (CSM). There is one CSM at Leeds General Infirmary and one at St James’s University Hospital.
Ø Out of hours release requires a significant amount of resource and coordination by CSMs. During times of operational pressure, a timely service by CSMs cannot be guaranteed given other urgent needs for patient care.
Ø While a new service model is being developed, the Trust will continue to provide an out of hours service. However, in doing so it is proposed that the Trust considers moving to a 08:00 to 20:00 service on weekends and weekdays.
Ø The Trust is awaiting further details surrounding a new Statutory Medical Examiner System that is expected to come into force in April 2023. This system will require Medical Examiners to provide independent scrutiny of all deaths not taken for investigation by a coroner which is therefore likely to have an impact on service delivery.
Ø Other considerations linked to making changes to the service were also outlined and included establishing clear policies and practice for out of hours during both weekdays and weekends; ensuring timely release of bodies with the potential to reduce the need of out of hours release; effective liaison and co-ordination with the Council’s bereavement services; establishing more consistent policies and practice across the West Yorkshire region, with co-ordination through the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT); quality control and assurance measures concerning the release of bodies; better understanding of demand levels and the best use of resources; and ensuring that the needs of other patients in hospital are being met with high quality and timely service provision from CSMs, Pathology and Mortuary.
Ø A timeline for the service review was shared with the Board which involved developing a new model, with identified responsibilities, by 31st March 2023. Testing and approval of the model is expected to take place during April with a view to begin implementing the final model by 1st May 2023.
Ø As well as engaging with the Scrutiny Board, ongoing engagement with faith and community groups, funeral directors, bereavement services, LTHT staff and West Yorkshire NHS Trusts were also deemed necessary as part of the process for change.
During the Board’s discussions on this matter, the following points were also raised:
The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions and requested that the Board be kept informed of progress linked to the ongoing review process.
RESOLVED – That the contents of the report and presentation be noted, along with Members comments and requests for information.