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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Let patients die at home

22nd November 2007

Marie Curie Cancer Care has called for the health service to devote more time and money to ensuring terminally ill patients are allowed to die at home.

Old Hands

The charity said a test scheme in Boston, Lincolnshire, showed that patients who were offered the choice overwhelmingly chose to die at home.

The Marie Curie Delivering Choice Programme, piloted in Boston, found that the number of patients dying at home increased by over half - from 17% to 42%, over a two year period.

"I would like Delivering Choice to be taken up by every healthcare authority for them to learn from the extraordinary story of Lincolnshire," said Thomas Hughes-Hallett, chief executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care.

However, the project would not be suitable for all patients. Those wishing to die in their own homes would need to have a carer to look after them. Nurses would communicate between the patient and the hospital and an emergency team could be called upon in an emergency.

Marie Curie said costs were reduced by 8% as a result of the programme. The charity said that an estimated 64% of patients wished to die in their own homes, but only a quarter were able to do so. Only 4% wanted to die in hospital, but almost half (47%) died there.

The charity has estimated it would cost the health service £17m over seven years to offer the service to patients.

The government's National Cancer Director, Professor Mike Richards, said: "They're right to be excited...they've done extremely well, particularly in coordinating services and the rapid response teams."

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