Palliative Care

Our Clinical Academic Group (CAG) is supported by the world’s first purpose-built institute of palliative care.

In 2018 Palliative Care formed the twenty-second CAG within King's Health Partners. 

Palliative Care Outcomes Book Front CoverPalliative care is the type of care that puts the person and those close to them before their disease(s). It is the active total care of patients with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems is paramount. The goal of palliative care is the achievement of the best possible quality of life for patients and those important to them. It is applicable at any point from diagnosis onwards, can occur together with treatment aimed to cure, and includes care for patients at the end of life as well as bereavement support.

King's Health Partners has a strong legacy of palliative care. In 2018, we published the Palliative Care CAG Outcomes Book, demonstrating our vision for excellence in clinical care, research, and education and training. 

Dame Cicely Saunders, widely acknowledged as the founder of the modern hospice movement, trained as a nurse, a social worker and finally as a physician at St Thomas’ Hospital. From 1948 she was involved with the care of patients with terminal illness, lectured widely on the subject, wrote many articles, and contributed to a great number of books. She founded St. Christopher's Hospice in 1967 as the first academic hospice linked with clinical care, pioneering the field of palliative medicine. In 1977, inspired by the work at St Christopher’s Hospice, Consultant Oncologist Dr Thelma Bates set up the palliative care service at St Thomas’ Hospital; the first hospital-based palliative care service in Europe, seeing the first patient on 5 December 1977.

Read the latest news from the Palliative Care CAG.

Away day Palliative CareClinical care

Clinical services have developed and expanded across all sites to include inpatient, outpatient and community palliative care services. Specialist multi-professional palliative care services operate in all our hospitals, provide a 24/7 service and receive referrals from any speciality. Our community palliative care services operate from a hub at Guy’s Hospital, providing a valuable inpatient/community interface that ensures care for our local population is coordinated to consider patient and family preferences regarding location of care and quality of life. Our teams work in close collaboration with other community services and local hospices including St Christopher’s Hospice and Royal Trinity Hospice. 

Key achievements in clinical care include:

  • All our clinical teams regularly run Dying Matters events bringing together local charitable and NHS organisations with members of the public to encourage open discussion of end of life issues and to signpost resources
  • At King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the five priorities for Care of the Dying have been adapted into the Communication, Attitude, Respect and Environment (ICARE) framework to give generalist hospital teams a memorable prompt to consider the holistic needs of dying patients
  • Our clinical team at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust is working with the Royal College of Physicians and other key stakeholders to develop a suite of resources for patients, carers and staff in relation to advance care planning conversations and discussions about cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Research and educationMSc Palliative Care

In 2002 Dame Cicely Saunders became the founder trustee of Cicely Saunders International and worked actively for the creation of an Institute, to, as she put it: “be a bridge between information, education, clinical care and science”. The Cicely Saunders Institute, the first palliative care institute in the world, was opened on the Denmark Hill campus in 2010. The mission of the Institute established in Cicely’s name is to pioneer the very best in palliative care and rehabilitation by integrating:  

  • Cutting-edge research – committed to building new knowledge and discovering new treatments through world-leading clinical, applied and health services research
  • Skilled multi-professional care – delivering top-quality evidence-based clinical care and support to patients and carers, for life and living, and death and dying
  • Innovation in engagement and education – to embed changes in policy and in practice nationally and internationally, engage with patients and public, and inspire tomorrow's leaders in the field from around the world.

King’s Health Partners is an internationally leading centre for palliative care research. We are second in the world (to Harvard University) based on total number of citations our work has received in the last five years.

Successes in research and education include:

  • A strategic approach to education and training including specialist end of life care practitioners and Practice Development Nurses, eModules and mandatory training
  • We deliver a monthly two day multiprofessional 'Transforming End of Life Care' course for all  health care professionals at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and have developed an advanced communications skills training course for staff
  • Our team run an end of life care simulation session on the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust induction programme and have launched a matrix outlining training considered essential to different professional roles alongside a prospectus of courses
  • Innovative education has also been a focus of the End of Life Care Darzi fellowship throughout 2017/18.

Innovations and achievements

  • Read about how our clinical academic collaborations are improving the lives of our patients in Innovation Impact Stories
  • See 70 examples of key achievements from across our partnership in our CAGraphics booklet.
You matter because you are you. You matter in all the moments of your life, and we will do all we can to help you not only to die peacefully, but also to live until you die.
Dame Cicely Saunders

Palliative Care Clinical Academic Group Leaders

Professor Irene Higginson, Professor of Palliative Care and Policy, Director, Cicely Saunders Institute

Dr Shaheen Khan, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Clinical Lead, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Wendy Prentice, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Clinical Lead, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust