The impact of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic on a hospital palliative care team

Future Healthc J. 2021 Mar;8(1):62-64. doi: 10.7861/fhj.2020-0131.


London was at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, with an exponential rise in hospital admissions from March 2020. This case study appraises the impact on and response of a hospital palliative care service based in a large inner-city teaching hospital. Referrals increased from a mean of 39 to 75 per week; deaths from 13 to 52 per week. Multiple actions were taken by the team to manage the surge in referrals, which have been categorised based on the 4S model: systems, space, stuff and staff. Several lessons are highlighted: need for flexible and responsive staffing over the 7-day week; implementing clear, accessible clinical guidance supported by ward-based teaching; benefits of integrating clinical practice with research; and the importance of maintaining team well-being and camaraderie to sustain change. Further evaluation is needed of the differential impact of changes made to inform service planning for future pandemics.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; end-of-life care; palliative care,.

Publication types

  • Case Reports