Only 18% of nurses the NAO surveyed had received any pre-registration training in palliative or end of life care. Additionally, only 15% of nurses had received pre-registration training in communicating with patients approaching the end of their life.
The NAO report also revealed that there was a lack of formal training for staff working in care homes. While 74% of care homes in the survey said they provided specific end of life care training, less than half said it was compulsory.
Palliative investment falls short
Responding to the report, RCN nursing adviser Sue Thomas said: ‘Caring for people during the last stage of their life requires specialist skills yet our own research shows that there is a woeful lack of investment in this area for nurses and other healthcare staff, both pre- and post-registration.’
The government published its long-awaited end of life care strategy in July this year, which placed emphasis on improving outreach services so more patients could receive palliative care at home. The government has pledged to back the strategy with £286m over three years.
David Praill, chief executive of Help the Hospices, said: ‘It is vital that the extra funding announced by the government to support the new national strategy is used to address the gaps identified in the NAO report.’