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'Lack Of 24-Hour Care' For Dying Patients

Charity Highlights Failures For Terminally Ill Patients Being Cared For At Home


Individuals who are dying in their own homes in the UK may be being failed by the NHS with regard to gaining access to 24-hour care, a charity has warned.

Sue Ryder is an organisation that provides hospice and neurological care for seriously ill patients. This week, it has launched a new campaign entitled 'Dying does not work 9 to 5' in a bid to raise awareness of 24-hour care issues in the country, while also securing improvements for this people requiring such care.

The charity has found that approximately 92 per cent of NHS-run clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) do not provide 24-hour telephone helplines for patients and their carers to access, meaning many could be missing out on the care and advice they need.

This is despite four in five of the 2,048 respondents to a survey carried out by Populus on behalf of Sue Ryder stating they thought 24-hour access to advice would be beneficial to terminally ill patients.

In addition, the charity found that of the 180 CCGs that responded to its requests for information, just eight per cent had both a round-the-clock helpline and a palliative care coordination centre to meet the needs of patients dying at home.

However, there are approximately 500,000 people caring for others with terminal conditions in the UK, indicating that high-quality support needs to be significantly more widespread.

Sue Ryder pointed out that there is an "obvious inequality" between the care people receive at the beginning and end of their lives, with 24-hour services available for maternity patients in most parts of the UK.

Speaking to BBC News, national clinical director for end-of-life care at NHS England Dr Bee Wee commented: "Over the past year, we have been working hard to make changes and move towards a palliative care service that gives everyone a choice about how and where they spend their final days.

"It is really important that dying people and those close to them have access to care, support and advice whenever they need it."

Expert Opinion
The figures published by Sue Ryder are very troubling, as patient care should always be a top priority, which means providing seriously ill patients with the treatment, care and advice they need around the clock. It is vital more is done to ensure terminally ill patients being cared for at home have access to the information and medical advice they and their carers need.

“Providing patients with the choice to spend their final days at home with their families and loved ones also means offering the help and support they need in those days. It is important access to guidance and advice is standardised across the board and all patients have access to the same services.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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