End-Of-Life Care For Terminally Ill In Need Of Overhaul

09.04.2015

The UK's end-of-life care for patients with terminal illnesses is in need of a major overhaul as thousands of people are neglected each year, a new report has claimed.

London School of Economics (LSE) researchers found that over 100,000 people with terminal illnesses are not getting the palliative care they need. Patients are being left without sufficient pain relief as a result.

The LSE report found certain patient groups were more likely to miss out on care, including those aged 85 and over, people living alone or in deprived areas, or in black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. Most palliative care – as much as 80% – goes to cancer patients despite accounting for less than a third of deaths.

Providing access to palliative care would improve the quality of life for thousands and would save the NHS money – as much as £37m across the UK – by preventing unwanted hospital treatments.

A separate MORI poll of health professionals who look after terminally-ill patients also found that insufficient staffing and funding is often an issue.

Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Marie Curie, said: "Everyone affected by terminal illness should have access to all the care and support they need, regardless of their personal circumstances.

"This report shows that this is not the case, and some groups are getting a worse deal than others. We don't think this is good enough."

Expert Opinion
Each and every patient deserves the highest quality of care throughout the time that they are receiving treatment and support from the NHS and it is vital welfare and dignity are provided to those who are terminally ill.

"Sadly, we have seen on a number of occasions the impact poor standards of care in hospitals can have. On some occasions patients have suffered as a result of avoidable errors and families have faced the emotional heartache of watching loved ones face unnecessary pain.

"Improvements need to be made on this issue and it is vital that steps are taken following this research to learn lessons from the mistakes of the past so that the NHS, patients and their loved ones can look forward to a brighter future.
Julianne Moore, Partner