A new helpline has been launched for seriously-ill people who may be in the last year of their lives.

Support and advice will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The dedicated “Gold Line” phone number, launched at Airedale Hospital on Monday, aims to provide one point of contact for patients and their carers to possible support for them in their preferred place of care.

Hospital bosses said the pilot scheme was not designed to replace patients’ use of their GP and other community healthcare services during normal working hours, but aimed to enhance their care when daytime services were closed.

Calls are answered by experienced nurses in the hospital’s Telehealth hub who are linked up to community-based teams, which can visit patients if necessary.

Doctors Helen Livingstone and Linda Wilson, palliative care consultants at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that these patients want to spend as much time at home as possible, and by providing extra support we hope the Gold Line will help this to happen. However, hospital admissions can also be arranged if required.”

Consultants, GPs, district nurses, a hospice, patients and carers from across the local health community have worked on the project.

The helpline has been launched across Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven after the hospital won a bid for £420,000 for a new project to use technology to improve care for patients at the end of their lives.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust was one of nine health organisations chosen to gain an award from the Health Foundation as part of its £4.6m “Shared Purpose” programme.