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Home  »   Coronavirus (COVID-19)   »   How palliative care has moved to the frontline during the COVID-19 crisis

How palliative care has moved to the frontline during the COVID-19 crisis

During the COVID-19 crisis, patients are receiving end-of-life care in greater numbers in places where death occurs infrequently and delivered by staff who may lack experience in palliative care.

Thu 28th May 2020 The PDA

Patients dying during the pandemic may experience challenging symptoms with the added pressure of not having their family and friends around them at the end of their lives.

The Association of Supportive and Palliative Care Pharmacy (ASPCP) is an association for pharmacy professionals working to improve the care of people affected by life-limiting disease. The ASPCP has evolved over 30 years or more, initially as the Hospice Pharmacists Association then as the Palliative Care Pharmacists Network through to today’s inclusive organisation for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Most members are from the UK with an increasing number internationally.

Members are from all sectors of pharmacy and have roles either working solely in palliative care or with an interest in palliative care. The aim of the association is to promote and support pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in this demanding area of practice. This is achieved by supporting the professional development of members, through the provision of an annual conference, a website and through collaborative working with other organisations such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) of which the association is an affiliated partner.

The ASPCP has a national executive committee which undertakes all ASPCP business, organises the annual conference and promotes the work of palliative care pharmacy through national workstreams and consultations. As the committee is a non-paid role additional members are co-opted where necessary to help with conference preparation and the various workstreams.

Examples of the associations work include:

  • Affiliated partners of the RPS, contributing to the faculty, advising on the skills, training and behaviours required at all levels by pharmacists working in palliative care. This also includes collaborative working with other speciality groups including the Primary Care Pharmacy Association and UK Clinical Pharmacy Association.
  • Work with the Department of Health, Home Office and MHRA when wholesale dealer licensing requirements changed which led to difficulty in some hospices acquiring easy access to medicines.
  • Organising the annual conference, which is a well-attended event for networking and education. Thanks to sponsorship, they are able to keep the conference fee low and it is always well evaluated by delegates.
  • Engaging with international palliative care pharmacists through research collaboration or acting as a host for overseas visitors.

It has become necessary to produce guidance both locally and nationally to support health care workers to deliver quality care and good symptom control for this new disease. ASPCP members have been at the forefront of this demanding work.

The association is open to experts and those with a passing interest in palliative care. It is free to join with a discussion forum for questions. A network of experts across the country may be able to help with queries about medicines use in palliative care or the mixing of medicines in syringe pumps, using the association’s online discussion forum.

For more information, visit: or follow the ASPCP on Twitter @theaspcp. 

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