People should have the right to die in the place of their choice say MPs

May 15, 2009 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

endoflife
The Public Accounts Committee has produced a report on end of life care that makes recommendations to allow people to choose where they die.

“Most people express a preference to die at home but 60% die in an acute hospital, even when there is no clinical need for them to be there,” the committee said.

“People should have the right to die in the place of their choice.

The End of Life Care Programme team should work with NHS Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities to develop the means to share information on patient preferences.

“In line with the Department for Health’s strategy, Trusts should agree plans with their Strategic Health Authorities for increasing the availability of community services, such as 24 hour district nursing, and access to advice and medication out of hours to help reduce the number of unnecessary hospital admissions.

“People in care homes should have equal access to these services.”

The committee reported that approximately half a million people die in England each year.

“Around three quarters of deaths follow a period of chronic illness, such as cancer or heart disease, where people may need access to end of life care. End of life care services seek to support those with advanced, progressive, incurable illness to live as well as possible until they die.

“The provision of end of life care is becoming increasingly complex, with people living longer and the incidence of frailty and multiple conditions in older people rising.

“People approaching the end of their life often require a complex mix of health and social care services provided in hospitals, care homes, hospices and their own home.

“End of life care is delivered by many people, including families and friends, specialist palliative care staff, and generalist staff such as doctors, nurses, and social workers, for whom end of life care represents a varying proportion of their role.”

In 2006-07, primary care trusts estimated they spent £245 million on specialist palliative care, delivered by around 5,500 staff with specific training in the management of pain and other symptoms.

“There are no estimates of the full financial cost of end of life care, largely because of difficulties in identifying the proportion of time generalist staff spend with people approaching the end of life.

“The cost to NHS and social care services of providing care to cancer patients in the 12 months prior to death (27% of deaths) is, however, estimated to be £1.8 billion alone.

“Most people would prefer not to die in hospital but a lack of NHS and social care support services means that many people do so when there is no clinical need for them to be there.”

Click here to read the full report.

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