A helpline for patients who have a serious illness and may be in the last year of their lives is being extended after it was successfully launched in Airedale, Wharfedale, and Craven last year.

The dedicated Gold Line was launched in November. It is a telephone service which aims to provide one point of contact for patients and their carers for help and advice, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

Now the Bradford City and Bradford District Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are funding the service on a trial basis until March 31, 2015.

One of the aims of the service is to prevent the Gold Line patients having to go into hospital by providing support at home.

The scheme is not expected to replace patients’ use of their GP and other community health care services during normal working hours but aims to enhance their care when daytime services have closed. Calls are answered by a team of experienced nurses in the Telehealth Hub at Airedale Hospital who are linked up to community-based teams, who can visit patients if necessary. Dr Linda Wilson, palliative care consultant at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to extend this service to patients with a GP in the Bradford area. It is already providing extra support, reassurance and care. Early results are very encouraging and feedback from patients, their carers and professionals working with them has been very positive.

“A formal evaluation of the service is also under way and results will be available at the end of this year.”

Dr Ian Fenwick, clinical specialty lead for end of life and cancer for the Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven and Bradford CCGs, said: “The Gold Line adds to the range of support available to patients in Bradford who are facing end of life issues. It also provides their families and carers with a direct line to expert care and support if they need help out-of-hours.”

Tina Hayton, clinical nurse specialist in palliative care working for Sue Ryder Manorlands, said: “I now feel confident that when I go home from work, the patients I care for in Bradford have a contact number that works for them. Gold Line supports and reassure them if they are frightened, worried or have symptoms.”

Colleagues from the health community, including consultants, GPs, district nurses, a local hospice, patients and carers, have been working on the project.