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12 May 2021 | Comment | Article by Phoebe Osborne

Dying Matters Awareness Week 2021

This week marks Dying Matters Awareness Week – a chance for organisations, individuals and partners to come together to open up the conversation around dying, death and bereavement.

The theme of this week looks at opening up the conversation around what it means to be #InAGoodPlace to die and our Senior Associate, Phoebe Osborne, in the specialist asbestos team considers the importance of recovering of hospice fees within a legal claim.

Hospice care is vitally important to patients and their families facing a terminal diagnosis such as mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma can be a debilitating illness, which is notoriously hard to treat and manage pain. It often requires palliative care at home or within a hospice to ensure improved quality of life and effective pain management.

We recognise first-hand the benefit of outpatient Hospice at Home treatment including holistic therapies such as aromatherapy, reflexology and counselling. All of these services cost a significant amount of money in addition to the Hospice nursing costs and general hospice overheads.

Many of our clients require specialist palliative care in our local hospices across the UK and as part of the legal claim, our legal teams always seek to recover these hospice fees as part of a successful civil legal claim following the leading case of Drake v Foster Wheeler Ltd [2010 EWHC 2010].

Unfortunately not all hospices are fully NHS funded and many rely upon charitable donations to run their services. In these instances, the charitable donation can be recovered back for the benefit of the hospice.

Dying Matters Awareness Week, is also an important reminder about working in collaboration with hospices, district nurses, palliative care nurses, organisations and individuals to come together and open up the conversation around death, dying and bereavement.

In 2021 we recognise the provision and fundraising for palliative care and bereavement care has been challenged even more so during the global COVID- 19 pandemic when the opportunities to fund raise have been limited due to social distancing.

In recent months we have recognised the urgent requirement for extra funding for charitable hospices in England and Wales and we personally acknowledge the pressure upon an already overstretched hospice workforce.

Taking this into account, we always strive to fund raise for our charity partners as we wish to help bridge the gap in the ever-rising service costs and increasing demand for hospice care within the community.

Many people who have not experienced the benefit of palliative care either in the hospice setting or in the community are unaware of the huge cost in running hospices. Sadly with the pressure upon the NHS, the increased need for round-the-clock palliative care advice has been greater than ever.

The main reason why we seek to recover Hospice fees is to ensure we are able to support those services locally and further afield to benefit future patients and their families.

If you are pursuing a legal claim with a law firm and you have been in receipt of day therapy in your local hospice or you are pursuing a claim on behalf of a loved one who has spent time in a hospice receiving palliative and end of life care then these are the type of costs that may be recovered.

At Hugh James, we always make enquiries with our clients and their families at an early start to open up the dialogue.

When facing a terminal diagnosis, the thought of receiving palliative care can be daunting, we always seek to demystify these worries and encourage early intervention and hospice care involvement. Often after that first encounter, patients and families are immediately put at ease and welcome the support from the hospice care nurses and the social interaction and counselling available.

In order for our legal team to recover these sums as part of the legal claim we usually write to the hospice finance director seeking details of the costs and upon a successful conclusion of the claim, the defendant will provide a separate cheque for the family to present to the hospice that cared for their loved one.

Phoebe Osborne says:

“We have found that many families and patients who have received palliative care other at home or within the hospice are eager to give something back to their local hospice especially where the end of life care has improved the patients well-being and quality of life during end-of-life care”.

In addition to recovering Hospice fees as part of the legal claim, we work closely with local support groups to raise awareness about the benefit of early intervention and effective palliative care and we regularly fundraise throughout the year to ensure equitable Hospice care provision for all.

This blog post from the team at Hugh James outlines the importance of recovering hospice fees within a legal claim to support the charitable fundraising and limited government and NHS funding.

Qamar Abbas, Medical Director and Consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Clare Hospice says:

“There are a number of Mesothelioma patients who require palliative care. Palliative care is about achieving good symptom management, psychological care, carers’ support and comfort and dignity for all patients. Firstly from patients’ point of view, it is refreshing to see that law firms take extra steps to recover some money for the patients. At the time, when patients have found out that they have e terminal illness due to an occupational disease, this provides some assurance to patients and their families that someone cares. I am also grateful that part of the money is received by hospices who have cared for these patients. Vast majority of hospices in the UK are charities and this contribution helps us to continue providing holistic care for patients with life-limiting illnesses”.

For more information on recovery of hospice fees or mesothelioma claims, please visit our dedicated mesothelioma claims page. If you have any questions about recovering of hospice fees or you would like to enquire about your hospice receiving training from our asbestos team, please enquire here.

Author bio

Phoebe Osborne

Legal Director

Phoebe joined Hugh James in March 2021 and is a Legal Director in the specialist Asbestos team. Phoebe has acted solely for Claimants in asbestos disease litigation since qualifying as a solicitor in 2013. Since then, she has successfully obtained compensation for a significant number of patients following their diagnoses of mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and lung cancer.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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