Laura’s help is so crucial

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A DOCTOR specialising in the care of people with life limiting illnesses has joined a health trust.

Laura McElhinney has become a vital part of the services at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

She is now providing vital care and support for people with life limiting illnesses as well as their families.

Laura is originally from Newcastle but she did her medical training in Norwich.

Her experience also stretches much further afield as she also spent two years working in Australia.

Part of her training included working on a cancer (oncology) ward in Derby.

Laura’s interest in palliative care medicine developed when she realised she got a great deal of satisfaction from helping patients to manage their pain and symptoms.

She also got satisfaction from communicating and supporting patients and their families.

Laura explained: “When people think of palliative care they often think of end of life care. My role involves me working with people with a range of life limiting illnesses, whether that is hours or years.

“When people are facing their mortality earlier than expected – such as if they have been diagnosed with a disorder like motor neurone disease for example – they need on-going support with managing pain and the symptoms associated with the illness as it progresses. Their families also need support so they can help their loved one but also look after their own health, which can be challenging.”

When choosing where to work, the trust was recommended to Laura because of its pioneering work in end of life care.

The trust is unique in having a Family’s Voice diary and automatic chaplaincy support for patients reaching the end of their lives to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of the patient and their family.

Overwhelmingly though Laura wanted to join the trust because of the feeling she had when she came for interview. She said: “As soon as I walked in the door I got this feeling of people being very welcoming and friendly. I just knew it was the right place for me to be.”

Consultant in palliative care Jane Bentley said: “I am delighted that Laura has joined the team. Her experience and her skill will enhance the service we can provide to this very special group of patients. I am sure as she gets out and about and known through the trust she’ll continue to find the welcoming and friendly atmosphere she found when she came for interview.”