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End of life care

Recently (22 April 2016) published statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that there is still work to be done when it comes to end of life care, particularly in hospitals, following the phasing out of the discredited Liverpool care pathway for dying patients in 2014.

The National Survey of Bereaved People (VOICES, Views of Informal Carers – Evaluation of Services) collects information on bereaved people’s views on the quality of care provided to a friend or relative in the last 3 months of life, for England. The survey has now been run for 5 years and was commissioned by the Department of Health in 2011 and 2012, and NHS England from 2013. It is administered by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Although 3 out of 4 bereaved people (75%) rate the overall quality of end of life care for their relative as outstanding, excellent or good; 1 out of 10 (10%) rated care as poor.

7 out of 10 people (69%) rated hospital care as outstanding, excellent or good which is significantly lower compared with care homes (82%), hospice care (79%) or care at home (79%).

1 out of 3 (33%) reported that the hospital services did not work well together with GP and other services outside the hospital.

13% of bereaved people disagreed that the patient had support to eat or receive nutrition, and 12% disagreed that the patient had support to drink or receive fluid.

Interestingly, almost 3 out of 4 (74%) respondents felt hospital was the right place for the patient to die, despite only 3% of all respondents stating patients wanted to die in hospital.