How and when to refer a child for specialist paediatric palliative care

Arch Dis Child Educ Pract Ed. 2013 Dec;98(6):202-8. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2012-303325. Epub 2013 Aug 23.


Specialist paediatric palliative care is a relatively new area of paediatrics, and the interface with other disciplines can occasionally pose challenges for referrers due to lack of information about the diverse services available. Although services vary on a regional basis, there are common principles which may be used to guide and support referrals. Children may be referred to palliative care services via a number of routes from community-based primary care to regional tertiary centres. Identifying those most likely to benefit from the finite resources available can be a challenge, and healthcare professional's negative attitudes to palliative care have been further identified as a potentially modifiable barrier. This article aims to clarify the role of specialist paediatric palliative care, identify who should be eligible for such care, describe the services available (including those from children's hospices) and provide a tool for assessing some of the most challenging referrals. Many of the documents referenced can be downloaded from the Together for Short Lives website, and in many cases, there is no charge.

Keywords: Neurodisability; Oncology; Paediatric Practice; Pain; Palliative Care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Decision Making
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Hospice Care
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patient Selection
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Referral and Consultation*