THE Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals have launched an improved service to support bereaved families, including dedicated care suites.

It comes after concerns were raised by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission last year, that ‘shortfalls in the hospital bereavement service impacted on the quality of service provided to grieving relatives’.


East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has since been working with staff, bereavement experts, local hospices and other hospitals to improve its service, including the appointment of a full-time senior bereavement nurse.

It has also introduced an on-site officer to provide registration of deaths at the Royal Blackburn, improvements to the mortuary viewing room, improved security equipment to protect the belongings of deceased patients, better training for staff, and comfort bags for relatives that stay in hospital overnight to be with a dying patient.

Chief Nurse Christine Pearson said: “We understand that we have one chance to get things right at this very difficult time. And we want to get things right every time.

“Bereavement care is now very much a priority and the improvements made in recent months have a single purpose: to offer better facilities and support for family members and loved ones after the death of someone close.”

The new service was launched this week, with Blackburn mayor Alan Cottam and Rossendale mayor Thomas Aldred.

Speakers included the bereavement care senior nurse, Erin Bolton, and other frontline hospital staff who make a positive contribution every day, including a porter, ward sister, chaplaincy staff, palliative care specialist nurses, bereaved relatives and carers.

The highlight came when pupils from Blackburn Central High School told how they were inspired to design and create more than 50 comfort bags, containing toiletries for use by people who choose to stay in hospital to be close to a family member of friend at the end of their life. In January, the trust also introduced new End of Life guidelines for staff caring for dying people. Based on ‘5 Priorities for Care’, the guidance emphasises the needs and wishes of the dying person and those close to them.