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A Paediatric Palliative Care Role has become permanent after it was funded by local cardiac charity

Julia Whatley, a dedicated paediatric palliative care nurse, has just had her post made substantiative by the University Hospital Southampton Trust, after it had been funded by Heartbeat and other charities for the past two years.

While what the palliative team do is often mistakenly associated solely with end-of-life care, Julia’s work involves debunking this misconception. Her role is focused around an active and comprehensive approach to care, starting from the point of diagnosis or recognition and extending through the child’s life, death and beyond. This approach encompasses physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects, with a primary focus on improving the quality of life for the child or young person and providing support for their family. It also involves managing distressing symptoms, offering short breaks, and providing care through the challenging times of death and bereavement.

Julia said: “When patients, especially children are first diagnosed or if it’s an antenatal diagnosis the support that parents need is huge. And we’re there, the palliative care team is able to sit with the families, talk things through, guide them through to other groups that can offer support.

“These diagnoses are often life changing and we want to be there to guide them through.”

Julia began her role in October 2021, and it has proven invaluable in providing additional support to children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions, as well as their families. Her dedication to this specialised field has been evident in her recent work, where she collaborated with the children’s cardiac nursing team and foetal medicine team to develop a new hypoplastic left heart pathway.

This pathway ensures that palliative care support is offered from the moment of diagnosis during the antenatal period, enabling cooperation with cardiac and other medical teams throughout the child's healthcare journey as well as outside bodies like charities, support groups or access to funding.

The funding provided by Heartbeat and other charities over the past two years has allowed Julia to make a significant impact in the lives of these children and their families. As her role becomes a permanent fixture within the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, it underscores the importance of sustained support from charitable organizations in the critical field of paediatric palliative care.

Heartbeat CEO Mark Ind said: “We’re delighted to hear Julia’s role has been made permanent. From all of the Heartbeat team we offer our congratulations. Her role has really highlighted the need for extra support for paediatric palliative care.

“This announcement highlights the vital role that charitable organisations play in creating positions that bridge the gap between direct medical care and the overall well-being of patients and the continued work Heartbeat is doing in supporting the NHS here in Southampton.”

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