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End-of-life care must be a priority

28th January 2010

The King’s Fund has issued a warning that end-of-life care must remain a priority for clinicians and policymakers despite the financial squeeze the health service faces.

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The charity has issued 10 recommendations it believes will deliver patients high-quality care at the end of their lives and provide a relevant choice of where they die.

Its report “Delivering better care at end of life: the next steps”, is the outcome of its summit meeting in November designed to address the difficulties in implementing the government’s End of Life Care Strategy.

The document concludes: “Inadequate care at the end of life should not be acceptable in our society. A patient who is dying should have the best possible experience, be treated as an individual with dignity and respect, be free from pain and other symptoms, and, where possible, be in familiar surroundings with family and friends.

“A poor experience at the end of life can be devastating for both the patient and their families and friends.”

Recommendations include patients’ and carers’ needs being reflected in commissioners’ decisions on building services; services must not be based on ‘office hours’; and at the end of life, patients should have access to someone who can meet their need for care within an hour of asking for help.

The King’s Fund stresses services should not necessarily be the cheapest option but ones that provide the desired outcomes.

It says a national evidence base is needed so that commissioners can evaluate new models of care and compare their cost-effectiveness, giving them the confidence to make changes.

 

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