Conditions treated by the Palliative Care service

We see a number of different diagnoses and conditions from any specialty in Great Ormond Street Hospital, including oncology, haematology, cardiology, neurology and intensive care. Life-threatening conditions are those that may be cured, but where treatments may not be successful and a child could die.

Life-limiting conditions are those that cannot be cured and where death in childhood is likely.

There are four categories of life-threatening/life-limiting illness.

Category 1

Life-threatening conditions for which curative treatment may be feasible but can fail. Where access to palliative care services may be necessary when treatment fails or during an acute crisis, irrespective of the duration of that threat to life. On reaching long-term remission or following successful curative treatment there is no longer a need for palliative care services.

Examples: cancer, irreversible organ failures of heart, liver, kidney.

Category 2

Conditions where premature death is inevitable, where there may be long periods of intensive treatment aimed at prolonging life and allowing participation in normal activities.

Examples: cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Category 3

Progressive conditions without curative treatment options, where treatment is exclusively palliative and may commonly extend over many years.

Examples: Batten disease, mucopolysaccharidoses.

Category 4

Irreversible but non-progressive conditions causing severe disability leading to susceptibility to health complications and likelihood of premature death.

Examples: severe cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities such as following brain or spinal cord injury, complex health care needs and a high risk of an unpredictable life-threatening event or episode.