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Palliative care

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is about promoting the best quality of life for children and families, using physical, emotional, social and spiritual elements.

Involvement with a palliative care team should begin from the point of diagnosis of any life-limiting condition, and continue throughout your child’s life and death.

Our aim is to make sure the wishes of your child and family are at the centre of all support and care we provide. This often includes symptom management planning and supporting psychological needs.

What does the palliative care team do?

We provide palliative care to children and families with long-term life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. We work across Sheffield within the hospital and community. This includes:

  • symptom management
  • preventing unnecessary hospital admissions by at home assessment and treatment where possible
  • advance care planning
  • working in partnership with Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice and others
  • co-ordinate the multidisciplinary teams when multiple specialities are involved
  • end of life care and bereavement support
  • home visits with a palliative care consultant


Palliative care conditions

Palliative care conditions include:

  • Life-threatening conditions, meaning conditions that may be cured, but where treatments may not be successful and a child could die
  • Life-limiting conditions, meaning conditions that cannot be cured and where death in childhood is likely

There are 4 categories of life-threatening and life-limiting illness:

Category 1

Life-threatening conditions where it could be cured and treated, but may also fail. Palliative care services may be necessary when treatment fails, or during an acute crisis. For example, cancer and irreversible organ failures of heart, liver and kidneys.

If your child reaches long-term remission, or has been cured and treated, there is no longer a need for palliative care services.

Category 2

Either when premature death is inevitable, or where there may be long periods of intensive treatment to prolong life. For example, cystic fibrosis, or Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Category 3

Progressive conditions without curative treatment options and the only treatment available is palliative and maybe for many years. For example, Batten disease, or mucopolysaccharidoses.

Category 4

Irreversible but non-progressive conditions causing severe disability and health complications, and a likelihood of premature death. For example, severe cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities from brain or spinal cord injury, complex health care needs and a high risk of an unpredictable life-threatening event or episode.

How do we get referred?

All children and teenagers up 18 years old are eligible to be referred to the palliative care team. Please see the referral guideline or criteria.

Ask your lead consultant to be referred to the palliative care team.

At the moment, clinical care in the community can only be provided to children and young people with a Sheffield GP practice.

For the regional clinic please email scn-tr.palliativecareteam@nhs.net and we can send you a referral form.

The palliative care team

  • Dr Anton Mayer – Palliative Care Consultant (Intensive Care Unit and Palliative Care)
  • Gemma Barker – Clinical Nurse Specialist and Team Leader
  • Abbigail Rowcroft – Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Sarah Su- Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Charlotte Clarke – Palliative Care Assistant Practitioner

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the team Monday to Friday between 7am and 5pm on 0114 271 7633, or email scn-tr.palliativecareteam@nhs.net

  • Gemma Barker, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Team Leader on 07385 419537
  • Sarah Su, Clinical Nurse Specialist on 07768 750845
  • Charlotte Clarke, Palliative Care Assistant Practitioner on 07880 500920

For urgent queries out of hours, at weekends and overnight you can call:

  • Ryegate House any time on 0114 271 7367
  • Helena Team any day between 8am and 5pm on 0114 226 0600
  • Bluebell Wood any time on 01909 517360
  • Main hospital switchboard and ask for the 524 bed manager on 0114 271 7000

Further information

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

Contact us


Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: PC1

Resource Type: Article

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