STRUCTURE: The Independent Reconfiguration Panel has recommended that a hospital in Portsmouth should not reverse its decision to close an end of life care ward.

The case of Queen Alexandra Hospital, run by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, was referred to the IRP by Portsmouth City Council’s health overview and scrutiny panel.

The IRP announced on 20 May that it accepted that for clinical, operational and financial reasons it would be unsustainable to reopen G5 as an end of life care ward.

Reversing the decision to close it would have a negative impact on other clinical services, the panel found.

IRP chair Dr Peter Barrett said: “During our review it became clear that people felt that the quality of end of life care is the most important issue rather than the retention of G5 itself.

“The recommendations we have made are based on the qualities valued most by patients, their relatives and their carers. Peace, dignity, privacy, respect for personal and cultural needs, and compassionate care should underpin all end of life care.”

The IRP said the trust lacked a clear operational policy for the end of life service.

It recommended that the trust’s medicine for older people, rehabilitation and stroke clinical service centre, which runs end of life care, must develop a comprehensive plan for the quality, workforce, training and standards.

The IRP also said the trust’s steering group on end of life care should work with patient groups and other public representatives to undertake a formal evaluation of the changes to the service. The review should seek feedback from carers and relatives, and report back to the trust board and commissioners by November.

The trust should review its approach to public and patient involvement, which the IRP found to be deficient, and also audit facilities supporting end of life care, including bed capacity and the availability of single rooms for patients.

The IRP review also said Portsmouth and Hampshire primary care trusts should re-appraise their end of life care plans.