The needs of dying people are “not a priority” for many clinical commissioning groups, claims an end of life care charity.
More than a quarter, 27%, of CCGs do not have a strategy for addressing end of life care for adults in their area, according to a report published today by Hospice UK.
“End of life care needs to become a core priority”
In addition, 71% of CCGs do not have a strategy for supporting children and young people living with life-shortening conditions.
Meanwhile, the charity said 34% of health and wellbeing boards do not consider the needs of dying people in their assessments of the health and care needs of their local populations.
It also shows that 57% of boards do not include the needs of dying adults and children in their key strategies that inform local service planning, with no change since 2014.
There are an estimated 92,000 adults in England every year who require palliative care but are not able to get the support they need – almost one in six of all deaths – said the charity.
Quarter of CCGs lack end of life care funding strategy
Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of Hospice UK, said: “Local health and care needs assessments and strategies are essential building blocks for shaping vital end of life care and support services for dying people. End of life care needs to become a core priority.
“A string of national reports has highlighted persistent failings in end of life care and what needs to change. However, there is little prospect of progress without a radical shift in approach by local health and care decision-makers,” she added.
As a result, Hospice UK is calling for local health and care leaders to work more closely with hospices and other palliative care providers to better understand the needs in their communities, including using data from hospices on demographics and care provision.
Scott Sinclair, head of policy and public affairs for England at Marie Curie, said the report revealed an “absurd situation”, noting that demand for palliative care was increasing.
“There is a risk that without proper plans in place, the NHS will start to fail dying people and their families in certain areas, leading to people dying with uncontrolled pain and other symptoms,” he said.
Simon Chapman, director of policy and external affairs at the National Council for Palliative Care, added: “End of life care needs to be a priority and it is unacceptable that there are parts of the country where the needs of dying people are not being met.”
Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It is unacceptable that in certain areas in England people who are dying will not get the care they need because those who are responsible at a local level do not have adequate plans in place.
“It is critical that concrete plans are put in place urgently to ensure people can access support within the community as well as in hospital, and are able to get the personalised care they need,” she said. ”This means those dying of cancer get the best treatment and care, and it will also reduce the strain on the NHS.”