End-of-life care 'is hit or miss'
Published on 20 June 2013 11:00 AM
Care provided to patients at the end of their lives is 'hit or miss' and can depend on factors such as where they live, campaigners have claimed.
A report by the think-tank Demos found that the standard of care for the terminally ill is affected by their disease, age and geographical location.
According to the research, people with cancer often receive earlier and better diagnosis, as well as better follow-up support and dedicated help to carry out their wishes.
Meanwhile, those with dementia were found to be more likely to die in hospital instead of at home, due to a lack of support in the community that leaves carers unable to cope.
Other factors that may affect a patient's care include their ethnicity and differences in the availability of equipment, according to the report.
Health professionals need better training
The researchers say that providing more choices for terminally ill patients would help to ease their pain and reduce the number of emergency hospital admissions.
They called for GPs and other health professionals to be given better support and training to help them talk about death and dying with patients and families.
Demos deputy director Claudia Wood, who co-authored the report, said a person's condition, location or ethnicity should not prevent them from having a say in their end-of-life care.
She added: 'These widespread and unacceptable inequalities show how accessing good quality end-of-life care is often hit or miss. But this is a lottery we can't allow to continue.'
The report, entitled Ways and Means, is backed by the charity Sue Ryder.
Chief executive Paul Woodward said it was a 'fundamental right' for people to have control over their care at the end of their life. He confirmed that the charity was working with Demos in a bid to secure Government support for implementing the recommendations in the report.
Mr Woodward added: 'Death and the memories it leaves behind, particularly of a loved one's last days, affects us all, which is why the inequalities revealed in this report represent a 'wake up' call that cannot be ignored.'
Copyright Press Association 2013