Funding announced for Marie Curie Rapid Response Service

Date published: 17 March 2016


Health Minister Simon Hamilton has announced £285,000 funding to ensure the continuation of the Marie Curie extended Rapid Response Service in 2016/17.

The Rapid Response Service (RRS) provides end of life care at short notice to patients in their own homes. Speaking about the announcement, the Minister said: “Most people who are receiving end of life care wish to remain at home wherever possible. Through this important service, patients’ needs can be met by rapid, short-term intervention at the end stages of their illness to help avoid emergency hospital admission. In fact, a review of the service shows that 28% of visits by the RRS prevented an admission to hospital or an ambulance call out.

“Marie Curie Nurses perform a range of activities at patient visits, including the administration of medication, providing emotional support, caring for the personal care needs of the patient, management of the patient’s symptoms and catheter related activity. In the first year of the extended service, over 2,000 visits and calls were made to over 800 patients and carers and 88% of visits took place within 2 hours of the initial request being made.  This highlights the importance of the RRS and that is why I am delighted to allocate £285k to ensure this service can continue to provide such essential care and help more patients and carers.”

Delivered by Marie Curie palliative care nurses, working in partnership with the local GP out of hours, the service provides prompt and timely response to calls for care and assistance, telephone advice to families and patients who may not need a home visit, and urgent at home care to patients. The service is co-funded by Marie Curie and the Health and Social Care Board.

The extended Rapid Response Service operates on an out of hours basis, seven days a week providing cover during evenings and at weekends and bank holidays between the hours of 8am and 10pm in the Southern and Northern Trust areas and in the northern sector of the Western Trust.

Paula Heneghan, Regional Manager, Marie Curie Nursing Service, said, “The Minister’s announcement of new funding is fantastic news for the Rapid Response service and for everyone involved in its delivery, but more importantly this is great news for those people, and their families living with a terminal illness that require an out of hours service.  We know from research that patients with a terminal illness prefer to be treated away from hospital, and where possible, in their own homes.  The Marie Curie rapid response service allows us to meet this need head-on, ensuring patients receive care where they want it and when they need it.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Marie Curie is the leading charity providing care to people living with any terminal illness in their own homes or in one of its nine hospices across the UK. The charity is also a leader in research into the best ways of caring for people with a terminal illness.
  2. The Marie Curie Rapid Response Service (RRS) has been operating in the Northern and Southern Health and Social Care Trusts since 2008/9,  providing urgent overnight out of hours cover for people with palliative care needs seven days a week.
  3. In 2015, the RRS in the Northern and Southern Trusts was extended to include 8am to 10pm at weekends and bank holidays as part of a pilot for a period of twelve months.  The extended RRS model (nights across the week, weekends and bank holiday service) was also introduced in the northern sector of the Western Trust.
  4. Media enquiries to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0575. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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