Palliative Care – Sobell House Oxford

Learning Outcomes

Job Summary

You are a ward doctor for an inpatient palliative care unit with 18 beds.

General day:

9am – team handover, then ward round (Consultant led 4 days a week)
You either support the consultant on their round, or round on your own after splitting patient list with other team members (SpR, Specialty doctor)

Mondays 12.30 – MDT with medical team/physio/OT/social work/bereavement counsellor/chaplain

Tuesdays 13.30 Journal Club

Wednesdays 13.30 M&M meetings or teaching alternate weeks

14.00-17.00 – See new admissions, continue ward round, ward jobs

You are responsible for many day to day discussions with patients and families. You are never expected to do anything you would feel uncomfortable doing but certainly encouraged to become more comfortable with difficult discussions.


Sobell House, Churchill Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX3 7LE

Shift pattern (lates/nights/weekends etc)
On calls involve covering the haematology and oncology wards. On calls are well supported.

Late shifts – on average one a week from 5pm with handover at 9-9.30pm.

Nights – two sets of nights in 3 months (one set of 3 one of 4).

Weekends – Two in three months (12.5hrs fri/sat/sun).

Top tips for extra opportunities (e.g. teaching / skills )

Opportunities available to go out into the community with palliative care nurses and to sit in outpatients clinics.

Spend some time with the chaplain and art therapy team to discuss their role.

Weekly teaching for palliative care team

The senior support is great, so it’s possible to develop advanced communication skills in a supportive environment


  • The staff – there is a very closely knit MDT at Sobell House. The staff group are expert, supportive and communicate well amongst themselves. You will be made to feel welcome and that what you do is worthwhile.
  • The relationship with the patients and families.
  • Lots of one to one time with the consultants who are very approachable and keen to hear new ideas, answer any questions.
  • I developed a lot more confidence in end of life medication prescribing and symptom control.
  • I also feel a lot more comfortable in initiating conversations regarding end of life which before I found challenging. The role really helps develop advanced communication skills.


  • This is an emotionally challenging role.
  • Can feel like many sets of nights and weekends! On calls can be very busy, but also very educational working alongside expert nursing staff. The weeks you also work the weekend can be very tiring but you do get the Thursday before and the Tuesday after a weekend worked off. (This may be changing to a Monday off where possible to facilitate attendance at Tuesday GP teaching).
  • It can be challenging to balance ward work with attending journal club.
  • Often on the ward there may only be a GP trainee and a consultant so the GP trainee may carry out independent ward rounds.

The details are correct at the time of writing but are subject to change.