St Oswald’s Hospice consultant hailed future leader of Palliative Care as she begins new research project

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to improve palliative care for our patients.”

One of our consultants has started research to improve palliative care as part of her National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Advanced Fellowship in Palliative Care Research, the first of its kind to have been awarded.

Dr Felicity Dewhurst will conduct the research at the hospice in partnership with Newcastle University.

NIHR Advanced Fellowships are only given to individuals deemed future leaders of research in their medical fields.

Felicity said:

“It is an honour to receive the first Advanced Fellowship awarded in Palliative Care Research and I am delighted to have this opportunity to improve palliative care for our patients.”

During the Advanced Fellowship, which will last just over 6 years, Felicity will lead research looking at ways to improve palliative care for patients with multiple long-term conditions (MLTCs).

She explained:

“Even though palliative care is a universal human right, people with multiple long-term conditions, particularly non-cancer illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure and dementia, often don’t get as good care at the end of life as they could do.

“I want to change this by providing evidence of how palliative care should be provided for this patient group and that good palliative care has the potential to save money by reducing futile treatments and hospital admissions.

“Most importantly, I want to help provide better experiences for patients and their families.”

Felicity is hoping her research will provide vital insights into how healthcare providers can deliver more effective palliative care – particularly among older and frailer patients, and those from socio economic deprived backgrounds and from minoritised communities, who are more likely to be living with MLTCs.

She will also look at the evidence supporting the multidisciplinary approach for those with multiple long-term conditions, specifically the incorporation of care from allied healthcare professionals such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

Felicity added:

“Allied healthcare professionals do an amazing job. I want to show the value they bring to palliative care and highlight the need for providers to invest in those roles.”

Felicity initially began her medical career in geriatrics before moving into palliative care.

She said:

“I was attracted to palliative care because it treats the whole person – not just a single physical thing that’s wrong with them. I also wanted to make a difference to people at very difficult times in their and their families’ lives.”

By being the first-ever recipient of the NIHR Advanced Fellowship in Palliative Care Research, Felicity wants to shine a light on the area of healthcare she feels so passionately about and one that has traditionally seen under investment.

She said:

“Palliative care has had relatively little funding compared to bigger specialisms, such as oncology, but I’m hoping my Fellowship will help provide evidence that it is worth investing in.

“I also want to promote the benefits of research that’s embedded in voluntary sector organisations and non-NHS organisations.”

Our Chief Executive of St Oswald’s Hospice, Steph Edusei, added:

“The team couldn’t be prouder of Felicity being given this distinguished Advanced Fellowship – the first of its kind in palliative care to be awarded by the NIHR.

“It is a credit to her hard work and commitment to improving palliative care for her patients, and her support of the multidisciplinary team who work alongside her.

“As a research-active hospice rooted in the North East of England, St Oswald’s Hospice is fully committed to using insights gained through research to improve the excellent care we provide to everyone with progressive, life-limiting conditions, and their families and carers too.

“We eagerly await the results of Felicity’s research in partnership with us and Newcastle University to see how her findings can be incorporated into what we do to better provide quality time for everyone.”

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