Report calls for improved end-of-life care provision

In collaboration with Adfero

End-of-life care must be prioritised in order to allow the 70 per cent of Britons who wish to die at home to do so, according to new guidance published by two national care bodies.

The National Council for Palliative Care and the National End of Life Care Programme has recommended, in their report "Act & Early", that professionals be trained in how to broach the subject of end -of-life care and outline plans for advanced care, as well as how to identify patients who may die within a year.

The guidance builds on the recent Palliative Care Funding Review, which showed that half the population end their lives in hospital, despite an overwhelming majority saying they would like to die in the familiar surroundings of their own home.

A 2008 National Audit Office report also found that 40 per cent of patients who were receiving end-of-life care had no medical need to be in hospital.

The aim of the new guidance is to allow people to pass away in the manner of their choosing and avoid unnecessary emergency hospital admissions.

The guidance from the council also calls for GP practices to appoint a clinical commissioning board member to lead on end-of-life care, and to set out local priorities for end of life care services.

Eve Richardson, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters Coalition said: "We only get once chance to get end of life care right for people who are dying which is why commissioners must ensure high quality end of life care and support is available for all those who need it, where and when they need it."

Martin Ledwick, head of Cancer Research UK's Information Nurse service, also welcomed the report's publication: "It's vital that cancer patients have access to proper palliative and end-of-life care, wherever they live, and that people can chose to die at a time and place that is right for them.

"We welcome this new report, and hope that its recommendations are adopted as soon as possible. Doing so will benefit cancer patients and the health system as a whole."