NCPC urges action on palliative care review
The letter, signed by charities including the National Council for Palliative Care, the Alzheimer's Society, Children’s Hospices UK, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the British Heart Foundation, states that inequities in access to and provision of care must not continue.
It reads: "At the heart of the review's recommendations is an acceptance that people at the end of their lives should be cared for and die in the place of their choice. The government must now move swiftly to implement the review's recommendation for a fair funding mechanism which will deliver better outcomes for people at the end of life – whatever their condition and wherever they are cared for – and better value for the NHS.
"The review's report and last Monday's report by the Dilnot commission provide the government with a critical opportunity that must not be squandered."
The government review, led by the chief executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care, Thomas Hughes-Hallett, found huge variations in the quality of end-of-life services.
One primary care trust in England was found to spend £186 per patient on end of life care, while another spends £6,213.
The review praises the "many highly committed professionals" working in the field but concludes that thousands of people who need help do not benefit from their expertise.
It calls for a new system of tariffs to incentivise high-quality care based on the individual patient’s needs. This would also be designed to encourage community-based services, enabling far more people to be cared for in their own homes.
Each patient would have an appointed co-ordinator to help guide them through the different services.
Simon Chapman, Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs at the National Council for Palliative Care said: “It is vital that the government acts on the review’s recommendations and creates a fair funding mechanism that will ensure people get high quality end of life care where and when they need it.
“Although the majority of us would prefer to be cared for and die at home, in a care home or in a hospice, more than half of us die in hospital. We only get one chance to get it right for dying people, which is why it must be a priority to ensure everyone who needs it can access palliative care round the clock."