**Macmillan Cancer Support calls on the Government to make social care free for everyone at the end of life**
Almost three quarters of cancer patients in England who die in hospital beds wanted to die at home1, an estimated 36,000 people each year, according to new figures released today by Macmillan Cancer Support.
Analysis from a recent national survey of bereaved relatives and carers reveals that for cancer patients last year, care in hospitals was often subpar to the care received at home. Of those who died at home, 63% rated the overall quality of care received as excellent or outstanding, compared to only 37% of those who died in hospitals.2
Furthermore, it was reported that over two out of five (41%) people with terminal cancer were not always treated with dignity and respect by hospital doctors during their last hospital admission.
Existing Macmillan research reveals that the vast majority of health professionals (96%)3 agree that access to social care services is crucial for keeping people out of hospital. However two years after the Palliative Care Funding Review (PCFR) recommended that social care should be free for those at the end of life4, thousands of cancer patients are still spending their last remaining days and hours on a hospital ward.
Today Macmillan launches a new report, Time to choose, which sets out new recommendations for improving choice at end of life for cancer patients. It also calls on the Government to make social care free for everyone in the last weeks of life before the end of this Parliament in 2015.
Lacey Phillips, 31 from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, cared for her father who died of head and neck cancer in 2012, she says:
‘Nobody explicitly told my dad he was at the end of his life, or explained what might be available in terms of support. We would have liked to have been given more options on his care – what they could do, what he was entitled to, or what potential costs might be involved. We would all have preferred him to die either at home or in a hospice, where he would have felt more comfortable.’
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
‘As the Government makes up its mind about whether to fund and implement free social care at the end of life, thousands of people with terminal cancer are being left to die in hospital beds against their wishes.
‘This is putting an unnecessary strain on our A&E departments because people are not getting access to social care for themselves or for their carers which would enable them to be cared for in the comfort of their own home.
‘It’s simply not good enough to pay lip service to this issue – we need to see action. If the Government wants the NHS to deliver world-class care at the end of life in the UK, it needs to start by giving people a real choice about where they die.’