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When recovery is not possible

This page was last updated: September 29th, 2022

In some patients, despite receiving clinical care treatment, it becomes clear that there is no realistic hope of their recovery. In these circumstances, prolonging life­-supporting treatment has no benefit to the patient and can also be distressing to both the patient and relatives.
At this stage, care may move towards providing comfort and reducing distressing symptoms, and we may also consider stopping existing treatments.

When the patient cannot make his/her own decision, the clinical team will hold full and repeated discussions with the patient’s relatives and extensive consultation with other specialists. They will also consider the patient’s previously-expressed wishes and make sure the whole clinical team are in agreement before any decisions are made.

It is important for relatives to be involved so that they understand and accept any decision made, but they are never asked to make the decision themselves.

When the decision has been made to stop life­-supporting treatment, we will continue to make sure the patient is as comfortable as possible and has a peaceful and dignified death.

We are here to support the patient’s family and friends at this difficult time. Please speak to the doctors and nurses if you have any questions or concerns. If you wish a member of the chaplaincy team to visit and provide end of life pastoral care, please ask one of the nurses to contact them.

Organ donation

Organ donation is the process by which a person can give their organs after their death to help others. We only discuss organ donation with families when all other treatment options have been explored and the decision has been made to withdraw life-sustaining treatment.

Specialist nurses in organ donation work alongside the Critical Care doctors and nurses to advise and support families through this difficult time.

If your relative had expressed a wish to donate organs or tissues to help others after their death, or if it is the wish of the next of kin, please ask the doctors or nursing staff to contact the on-­call Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation via the hospital switchboard.

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