Nearly three quarters of UK adults (73 per cent) say hospice services should be used more to help relieve the pressure on hospitals according to newly released findings of a survey published today by the charity Hospice UK.
And less than half of adults in the UK (47 per cent) say hospitals are “well-equipped” to provide end of life care according to the survey conducted by ComRes.
However, three quarters of those surveyed (75 per cent) say that partnerships between the NHS and hospices improve the quality of care in hospital.
The ComRes survey commissioned by the national hospice and palliative care charity indicates there is keen public appetite for more collaboration between the NHS and the UK’s 220 charitable hospices.
The findings are published amidst warnings the NHS is facing its worst winter in recent history, largely due to increased demand caused by seasonal illness.
Currently, many hospices work in partnership with their local hospital to provide care for people approaching the end of life who are admitted to hospital but who have no clinical need to be there. This care can include support in a hospice in-patient unit, or hospice care provided in someone’s home.
In addition, through training and education programmes hospice staff work with palliative care teams in hospitals to help improve the quality of support offered.
Some people do need a stay in hospital as part of their end of life care. Hospice UK is leading an initiative called ‘Building on the best”. It aims to ensure staff in acute hospitals are supported to deliver high quality, compassionate end of life care and targets specific areas for improvement.
The ComRes survey also highlighted worries among UK adults about where they will die in the future; four in ten (40 per cent) say they are concerned they will not be able to die “in the place of my choice”. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) say they are “very concerned” about this.
Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:
“This ComRes survey indicates there is a strong public appetite for greater collaboration between the NHS and the UK’s charitable hospices.
“By working closely with NHS staff – through training and education programmes – hospices can help improve end of life care for people who need to be supported in hospital.
“In addition, hospices can help increase patient choice by providing community-based care alternatives beyond hospital for dying people, which in turn can help free up beds in overstretched acute services.
“Hospices can do much to help bolster our overloaded care system but their role is often overlooked. This is not about hospices providing a stop-gap for overstretched A&E departments, it is about a viable long-term solution that supports patient choice and also helps ensure that increasingly scant NHS resources are targeted effectively”.