Marie Curie Cancer Care is calling on the government, NHS England and other policy makers in the health sector to take urgent steps to ensure that the end of life care needs of people from diverse communities are met.
The charity is launching a new paper, Next steps: Improving end of life care for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the UK, which sets out recommendations to address the low levels of use of palliative and end of life care services by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
The paper follows an earlier report published in June 2013, commissioned by Marie Curie and Public Health England from the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London. This report identified that the end of life care needs of people from diverse backgrounds are growing, with the number of people aged 65 and over from BAME communities set to treble in the next 25 years. Amongst many BAME communities, it showed that there is also a lower prevalence of cancer and a higher prevalence of other, chronic conditions, meaning there is likely to be greater need for end of life care for people with non-cancer diagnoses. The report highlighted that, at present, the end of life needs of BAME people are not adequately met or understood.
Following the report, Marie Curie held discussion groups with end of life policy makers, practitioners and BAME community members, which informed the priority recommendations for government and stakeholders set out in the new paper.
The key recommendations include:
- NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities should ensure that current and future BAME needs are taken into consideration in newly integrated services and use Equality Impact Assessments to determine whether these services will meet the needs of people from BAME communities.
- Health Education England and Local Education and Training Boards should review existing training programmes to ensure that they are future proof, particularly around the effectiveness of cultural competency training.
Imelda Redmond, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said: “We know that people from minority ethnic backgrounds are currently much less likely to access end of life services for a variety of reasons. However, demographic changes and other factors mean that the healthcare system will be in danger of failing to reach increasing numbers of people in the coming years unless urgent action is taken. It is crucial that policy makers and commissioners rise to the challenge quickly and take the steps needed to ensure that we are providing the right support for everyone at the end of their lives.”
Chi Onwurah, Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central and sponsoring MP for the paper, said: “End of life care often finds us at our most vulnerable and weakest. Everyone deserves care that works for them, but as the Marie Curie Report shows there are clear barriers preventing people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities from accessing the end of life care and support they need. I congratulate Marie Curie on shining a much needed spotlight on the needs of people from different communities and hope we can now all work together to ensure those needs are met.”