People should be given the choice about where to die - with thousands more able to pass away at home, according to government plans.
Everyone across the country should be given a “choice offer”, with proper support in place to ensure they can die where they wish.
Most people currently die in hospital despite the vast majority saying they would prefer to die at home in familiar surroundings, close to family and friends.
The government admitted there was a long way to go before everyone was given a choice of where to die but said a review in 2013 could lead to a firm offer in the future.
The plans are part of a new consultation on increasing patient choice in the NHS.
It builds on commitments made under Labour to offer a range of choices, including of hospital, care team, treatment, GP and maternity service.
It says patients should be able to choose from “any willing provider”, including private companies or charities offering treatment at NHS prices.
On where to die, it said: “We want to give people more control over the care that they receive as they approach the end of their lives.
“Therefore, we propose to establish a national choice offer for those people who choose to die at home (including a care home) to receive the support that they need.
“A lot needs to be done to improve end of life care services to make this possible, so we will undertake a review in 2013 to decide when this national choice offer could be introduced.
“In the meantime, commissioners and providers should seek to improve both the range and quality of end of life care services and the choices available to patients and their families.
“For example, the availability of 24-hour community nursing services is crucial in supporting people who choose to die at home.”
The document does state there may be some situations where people are not allowed to die at home, such as if the specialist health equipment or nursing care they require can only be provided in a hospital.
“There will also be cases where the level of social care support required, including any support needed by carers, may mean that some choices will not be possible.”
A separate consultation document on information was launched by the government.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “By giving people real choice over their care, we can build a patient-centred NHS that achieves outcomes for patients that are among the best in the world.”