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Terminally ill care criticised

14th May 2009

MPs have criticised the standard of care offered to terminally ill patients by the NHS in England.

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The Committee of Public Accounts said palliative care was given a low priority, and a lack of services and poor co-ordination of health and social care meant many people were denied their wish to die at home.

It follows criticism last November from the National Audit Office about NHS end of life care.

While most people would rather die at home, more than 60% die in hospital.

MPs felt this was because front line health workers often lacked training in basic end of life care, there was poor co-ordination between different branches of the caring professions and even when a patient’s desire to die at home was made clear, this wish was often not granted because of poor services outside of hospital to meet their needs.

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said: "It is appalling that people dying in hospital are not always being given the end of life care they deserve, including effective pain management and being treated with dignity and respect."

The government has made £286m available over three years to back up its End of Life Care Strategy but the committee said primary care trusts must ensure the cash was spent on improvements to the service, and not diverted to other areas.

Marie Curie Cancer Care said work it had carried out showed that if health and social care agencies worked together the number of people able to die at home could be doubled at no extra cost.

 

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