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‘Care for terminally ill failing to meet patient needs’ say frontline staff

  • 33 Comments

Only around half of nurses and other frontline clinicians delivering care for people with terminal illnesses believe patients’ needs are being adequately met, according to a new survey.

Staff’s lack of time was cited as one of the major barriers to meeting patient needs by 67% of the 500 frontline clinicians taking part in the survey.

“It is undeniable that many people do not get the care and support they need”

Dr Jane Collins

Commissioned by palliative care charity Marie Curie, the Ipsos MORI survey also revealed more than two thirds of respondents felt lack of coordination between teams, insufficient funding for services and difficulty accessing social care were causing problems for delivering care.

More than half (56%) said a shortage of specialist palliative care services was a barrier to providing care.

Meanwhile, the survey also revealed stark differences between the levels of care provided across different settings.

Just 15% of respondents – who included oncology nurses , hospital-based physicians and clinicians working in general practice and hospices – said accident and emergency and out-of-hours social care services were adequately meeting the needs of patients with  terminal illnesses.

Fewer than half (45%) believed hospital in-patients received satisfactory care, but 91% believed care delivered in hospices was able to meet patient needs.

Improved co-ordination between health and social care services, and between acute and community providers were highlighted by respondents as key priorities for improving the quality of care provision.

“[In the future] the challenge of extending palliative care to people with chronic long-term conditions and multiple comorbidities will be even greater”

London School of Economics and Political Science

Another report published today – also commissioned by Marie Curie – from London School of Economics and Political Science found “considerable under-provision and service gaps,” which the organisation warned would grow as the UK population ages.

“There will be more need for end of life care and the challenge of extending palliative care to people with non-cancer diagnoses, chronic long-term conditions and multiple comorbidities will be even greater. It is therefore imperative to use available resources efficiently,” states the report, called Equity in the Provision of Palliative Care in the UK: Review of Evidence.

Marie Curie has called for a “radical” and “urgent” re think in the way end of life care is delivered to ensure the same quality and access of care is provided across settings.

Charity chief executive Dr Jane Collins said: “It is undeniable that many people do not get the care and support they need and everyone from medical professionals, researchers, policy-makers and those affected by terminal illness understand this.

She added: “There is a need for alternative models of care and capacity building – particularly in the community – to address the inequities of the current system and to meet the projected demands of the post-war, baby-boomer generation in the years to come. 

  • 33 Comments

Readers' comments (33)

  • michael stone

    'Marie Curie has called for a “radical” and “urgent” re think in the way end of life care is delivered to ensure the same quality and access of care is provided across settings.'

    I agree about that. But it isn't only about the level of care on offer - especially if the patient is at home, there are serious issues about 'differing mindsets, and the complexity of communication and the communications chain'.

    Almost everyone 'inside the system' is working on the 'care provision' aspect, but I can't find anything like as many people looking at the 'co-ordinating mindsets' issue. An issue of great significance, 'particularly in the community' to quote the problem area mentioned by Jane Collins.

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  • michael stone | 9-Apr-2015 1:49 pm

    stone spattering itself all over the page yet again and determined to get in their first. can you not please leave these pages for discussion by the experts? clearly it is far too much to ask!

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 9-Apr-2015 6:25 pm

    Perhaps you might consider actually commenting on the NT articles ?

    Who are 'the experts' ? And it was not a determination 'to get in first' - I came across the piece, and commented: 'first' was pure chance.

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  • Anonymous | 9-Apr-2015 6:25 pm

    your continued rants about Michael Stone's comments are irritating to say the least. It's not just the people providing the care that is the issue here, it is those receiving it, more importantly. You don't seem to have an opinion on things yourself.

    Unfortunately, like all other issues that are highlighted by frontline staff, it won't be listened to.

    I am an anonymous health professional as you may wish to rant about me too, and I want to feel free to make comments on other issues without your backlash.

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  • michael stone | 10-Apr-2015 9:45 am

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  • michael stone | 10-Apr-2015 9:45 am

    coincidence that your pure chance happens so often isn't it!

    who wants to discuss any important issues with voyeurs like you about? have you never wondered why there is such a sparsity of commentary on these pages and especially from more senior and experiences nurses - a good number, including myself, have confirmed why!!!

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 10-Apr-2015 10:16 pm

    An attitude that HCPs and laymen should be staying within 'their own silos' and not discussing issues across the lay-professional boundary, is not only entirely unhelpful, but certainly in my main area of interest (end-of-life, especially while patients are in their own homes, with an emphasis on 'joined-up 'thinking' for all involved) it runs exactly opposite to the many calls for 'national conversations involving everyone'.

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  • michael stone | 11-Apr-2015 9:41 am

    take you meaningless metaphors and personal agenda elsewhere and stop trying to undermine the nursing profession which you have absolutely no clue about, not to mention how foolish you make yourself look. your 'interest' is an obsession and a fetish which has nothing remotely to do with the skills, broad and expanding knowledge base, compassion, art, science and openness to the public and other colleagues and healthcare professions of nursing!

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 11-Apr-2015 2:08 pm

    It was put very concisely by Anonymous | 10-Apr-2015 10:03 pm. My 'interest' is quite obsessive, but it isn't a 'fetish', I am not trying to undermine the nursing profession, and most of your claims about why I post are utter rubbish !

    I would repeat: I post with both a username and a dinosaur icon [unlike many people] - if you don't want to read my pieces, that should allow you to avoid reading them without too much effort.

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  • michael stone | 11-Apr-2015 2:18 pm




    '...most of your claims about why I post are utter rubbish !'


    as are your comments. you said it, not me!

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