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First national survey on end of life care
Date of article: 04-Jul-12
Article By: Rachel Baker, News Editor
The quality of care received by people in the last three months of their life has been explored in a government survey for the first time.
Hospice care is rated most positive in ground breaking survey published by the Office for National Statistics. However, there were significant differences in the quality of care experienced according to the age of patient at death, cause of death and place of death.
Ministers commissioned the ONS to carry out the survey to address a big gap in the data on end of life care.
The survey asked bereaved people about the quality of care provided for their loved one and the key findings show:
• Seventy five per cent of people reported the overall quality of end of life care to be outstanding, excellent or good.
• Hospice care was rated the most positively, with 92 per cent of people rating it as excellent or good.
• Cancer patients and patients under 65 were most likely to rate their care as outstanding or excellent.
• There was a notable variation in dignity and respect, with hospice care coming out top and care in hospitals bottom.
The survey findings will underpin a new indicator for end of life care in the NHS Outcomes Framework.
Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow said: “All people, regardless of their age or condition, should get the best quality care at the end of life.
“The results of this survey will be carefully studied by NHS and social care professionals. It reveals a wide variation in the quality of care across the country. There is more to be done to improve both the way care is co-ordinated for people in their own homes and the quality of care in hospital.
“We are already working with hospices, the NHS and social care to pilot new ways of working and put in place a secure funding system to support palliative care.
“These results will help health and social care to benchmark the care they deliver and learn from the best.”
New measures have recently been introduced by government to ensure that all patients are treated with dignity and respect. These included a ban on age discrimination in health and care services, which will be introduced in October 2012, and the creation of an independently chaired Nursing and Care Quality Forum.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, national clinical director for End of Life Care said: “This survey is a key step in addressing the significant lack of data on end of life care services. For the first time, it provides us with information about people’s quality of care across all care settings, and enables us to see how this varies across the country.
“Used alongside the information generated by other initiatives, such as the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, the survey findings will be of huge benefit to those responsible for commissioning and delivering services.”
The findings have also been broken down by the 51 Primary Care Trust (PCT) clusters in England in 2011/12.
The Office for National Statistics carried out the survey with respect and discretion due to the questions being of a sensitive nature. It also provided a free national telephone number for the Survey Enquiry Line, and worked closely with Cruse Bereavement Care to help people get access to bereavement support if needed.