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Enabling cancer patients to die at home 'would save NHS money'


The NHS could save money by investing more in social care and meeting the wishes of many cancer patients who would rather die at home than in hospital, it is claimed.

A survey released by Macmillan Cancer Support reveals that around two out of every three (65%) cancer patients who died in hospital in England wanted to have their final moments at home.

The results are published as a cross-party committee of MPs and Lords has issued a strong recommendation to the government to introduce free social care for people at the end of life “at the earliest opportunity” to help more people to die in a place of their own choosing.

A national survey of bereaved relatives and carers suggested that around nine out of 10 (91%) cancer patients in England who died in hospital last year actually said they wanted to die elsewhere.

Given the major cost implications for the NHS of hospital-based care, Macmillan believes it is simply not affordable to continue treating people in hospital against their wishes.

In a new ICM poll of GPs, oncologists and cancer nurses it is revealed that 86% of respondents think providing free end-of-life social care to help more people die at home would save the NHS money.

The vast majority (99%) of health professionals think cancer patients should be supported to die at home if that is their wish, the new survey found.

However, 99% of health professionals say there is a lack of appropriate services for that to happen.

The survey also shows that 97% of respondents cite slow and complex needs assessments as a key stumbling block in the provision of appropriate social care at the end of life.


Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.


Readers' comments (10)

  • This is exactly what the NHS Continuing Healthcare Fast Track Tool should be used for.

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  • Anonymous | 19-Mar-2013 12:42 pm

    if i get sick I would like to be looked after and given the same care my colleagues and I have given to others. I don't want any fast track tools used in me thank you.

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  • Thats what the fast track tool is for. To get the appropriate care and support in quickly without having to go through lengthy processes. Have a look at it please, (particularly before being so critical of it)

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  • I agree that is the purpose of the tool, especially when Form has been updated.

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  • Anonymous | 19-Mar-2013 1:43 pm

    if its another thing like your LCP idea, no thanks! Don't clinicians rely on their own observations of what is before them and their own clinical judgement anymore? or aren't these taught in school!

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  • "Enabling cancer patients to die at home 'would save NHS money'."

    The headline suggests 'saving money' is the priority, before supporting patient's wishes. If it wasn't a cost-cutting idea, patient's wishes wouldn't come into it.

    That is the NHS for you, these days!

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  • B R | 20-Mar-2013 0:02 am

    totally agree and made a similar comment following another article. There are many headlines suggesting that money is the first priority!

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  • It shouldn't be about money, I agree with the misleading headline - something I would expect the the daily fail not a nursing magazine.

    The fast-track tool doesn't guarantee you will get home quickly, it can take a while which is a shame. On the other hand I have seen patients be discharged within hours if they have a family or private carers to look after them, it can be done. Rather than wait weeks for the fast-track assessments and funding to be agreed maybe immediate private care could be organised instead.

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  • We must not forget that other patients wish to die at home too, not just those who have cancer.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Mar-2013 10:16 am

    I am with you there too

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