The third National Survey of Bereaved People (VOICES), where bereaved people are asked for their views on the quality of care provided to a friend or relative in the last three months for England, has been published by the Office for National Statistics.
Commenting on the findings, Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care said:
“We welcome the publication of this important report, which provides a valuable insight into bereaved people’s experiences of end of life care.
Despite some encouraging progress, particularly in the dignity and respect shown by nurses, it’s hugely concerning that many people are still being failed when they are dying. Once again end of life care in many hospitals is clearly falling short – something which should be a particular concern given that almost half of the people in the survey died in hospital, even though just 3% of people who expressed a wish had said that this was where they wanted to die. It’s also disappointing that feedback on the overall quality of care provided has not improved since 2011.
The challenge now is to transform the way in which we care for people who are dying, so that everyone receives the care that is right for them, based on their wishes and their needs. It’s simply unacceptable to have so much inconsistency in end of life care, with pain relief in hospital and at home far less available than in care homes or hospices and the quality of care varying depending on where you are and what your condition is. It’s also a real cause for concern that for those dying at home coordination of care appears to be getting worse, not better.
All those involved in end of life care must see it as a priority and make care of people who are dying part of their core business. This requires strong leadership at a local level including from hospital boards, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health and Wellbeing Boards as well as nationally, and the right training and support for staff, so that they understand what’s expected of them and how to best deliver excellent end of life care. We only have once chance to get end of life care right, and at present this chance is sadly being missed on too many occasions.”