The Welsh Ambulance Service has appointed its first dedicated palliative care paramedics.
Currently, people nearing the end of their lives often end up in hospital, despite it not always being the most suitable place for them to receive the appropriate care they need.
It is hoped the new scheme, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, will limit that need, giving patients and paramedics more options.
The four-strong team will work as part of Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Specialist Palliative Care Team and divide their time between patients in the community and patients in a hospital and hospice setting.
Ed O’Brian, end of life care lead at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said, “People associate the role of a paramedic with managing trauma patients or patients who’ve had a heart attack or stroke.
“Not many people realise that we also help patients approaching the end of their life due to an advanced illness, either with urgent symptom management or for a sudden deterioration.
“Every paramedic in Wales is trained to support these patients, but the palliative care paramedic role is unique in that their time will be divided between patients in the community and those in an inpatient setting.
“In the community, they’ll respond to palliative emergencies – essentially, they’re the bridge between the home and hospital for patients in the last days of life.
‘We hope this will improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients’
“They’ll also work in a hospital or hospice setting providing support to Swansea Bay patients, working alongside the nursing team under the direction of a consultant in palliative medicine.
“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with our health board colleagues on this initiative, which we hope will improve the quality of care for terminally ill patients and open up new and innovative ways of meeting their needs.
“The bonus is that our new recruits will receive specialist training and mentorship from our hospital colleagues, which they can then apply to their ambulance service role.”
Dr Gwenllian Davies, Palliative Care Consultant and Clinical Lead at Swansea Bay University Health Board, added: “We’re delighted to welcome paramedic colleagues to our Specialist Palliative Care Team.