Matthias Villalobos, a current participant of the EUPCA, conducted his Observation Week at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust in London. Matthias wanted to gain further insight for his personal project on the implementation of a palliative care consultation for patients in oncological trials, “I decided to apply for the observation week at this institution as it surely represents internationally renowned best practice.” Guy’s and St Thomas’ are two of the largest hospitals in central London and constitute one common NHS Trust. St Thomas’ is one of the oldest health care facilities in London including the first palliative care team in a UK general hospital founded by Dr Thelma Bates in 1977. Guy’s is one of the country’s leading cancer centres, treating more cancer patients than any other provider in London. Consequently, it also offers a large portfolio of clinical trials (phase I-III), with more than 1500 patients participating each year.
During his observation week he had the opportunity for extensive exchanges with many different team members and was allowed to accompany the team during ward rounds and consultations at the Palliative Care Out-Patient Department both at St Thomas’ and Guy’s. Due to the fact that palliative care is fully integrated in the healthcare system at the visited hospital, Matthias was able to learn valuable lessons for his project and his routine work in Germany at the University Hospital of Heidelberg. Although Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust did not have a specific palliative care consultation for patients in oncological Trials, they acted as a bridge to the palliative care team. Matthias remains convinced of the benefits of honest communication with facilitation of advance care planning and early pro-active discussions about end-of-life treatment for oncological patients and feels that this communication should not be “interrupted” by clinical trials. All in all, Matthias summarized his Observation Week as a “most valuable experience” and thanks Dr. Teresa Beynon and her entire team for their support and cooperation.
Authors: Matthias Villalobos and Heather Graham