Palliative care ignored by new wellbeing boards
Concerns have been raised that some bodies introduced in the NHS reforms have not considered the needs of dying people.
Just 46% of Health and Wellbeing boards with public strategies have considered the needs of people at the end of the lives, the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) said.
A new NCPC report states that many of the new boards, which were introduced under the Health and Social Care Act, have failed to set out their strategies for end of life care.
The report states that of 152 boards, 83 have published their health and wellbeing strategy online.
But just 38 boards have explicitly considered dying people, according to the NCPC - an umbrella organisation for palliative care providers in the UK.
Eve Richardson, chief executive of the NCPC and the Dying Matters coalition, said: “We really want to encourage these new boards to have a public debate with their communities about the priorities for good end of life care and support.
“Healthwatch, the new voice of local people, has an important seat and are ideally placed to help drive forward the change that the public tell us they want to see, alongside local councillors and decision makers.
“We’re calling for Health and Wellbeing Boards to seize the opportunity to join up support for people approaching the end of life. History shows us that overlooking end of life care in major strategies leads to costly fragmentation in care and support that does not meet peoples’ needs or wishes.
“This is not a niche issue applying to some people or communities - dying affects us all.”
Mike Hobday, director of policy and research at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: “It is incredibly disappointing that half of the new Health and Wellbeing Boards are not thinking about the needs of people with a terminal illness and are failing to prioritise improving end of life care.
“These new boards are in an excellent position to help co-ordinate end of life health and social care services.
“We believe this would reduce unnecessary emergency hospital admissions and offer families and carers much-needed support.
“To help make this a reality the Government must provide free social care at the end of life so everyone has the choice to die at home if they wish.”