Report leads to calls for better palliative care for all terminally ill patients
A new report published by the London School of Economics has condemned the current system of palliative care for terminally ill patients. In particular, it has identified non-cancer patients as being most likely to be provided with a distinct lack of service, along with those from black ethnic minority groups, people aged over 85 and those living in social deprived areas.
It is estimated that if care needs were provided for these groups it would actually save the NHS around £30 million by preventing the need for these groups to receive treatment in hospitals. It is estimated that whilst non-cancer-related illnesses account for around 80% of all deaths in England and Wales, only 20% of palliative referrals are made for these patients. Furthermore, cancer patients on average receive 11.4 visits from their GP in the last 3 months of their life, compared with 3.9 visits for non-cancer patients.
Jonathan Zimmern, barrister and senior associate with Fieldfisher, says:
"This is shocking news and needs to be dealt with as a priority. All end-of-life patients deserve to and should get the treatment they need, regardless of how it is caused. Research needs to be done into models of care for non-cancer palliative patients and implemented correctly so that patients get the care they require. We urge the next Government to address this issue to make sure this discrepancy does not continue to happen in the future."