Over three million people will die over the next Parliament with millions more people bereaved. We are campaigning together to call for better quality care and support for those approaching the end of their lives.
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The End of Life Care Coalition has issued the following joint statement on long-term planning in the NHS.
Statement on End of Life Care and the Long-Term Plan for the NHS
The case for improving end of life care
Improving end of life care must be a prominent part of the NHS Long Term Plan. It will help the health and care system deliver its broader system priorities, increase efficiency in the use of finite resources, and deliver better outcomes for people and families.
Too many people experience poor care as they approach the end of their life. Many dying people spend their last months and weeks in hospital – even though most of them do not want or need to be there. On average, people in their last year of life are admitted to hospital 2.28 times and have over 30 bed days in hospital – some have many more.Not only is this distressing for patients and their carers, but it also drives up costs for the NHS.
Good end of life care is a high value intervention: it improves outcomes for patients and carers, at the same or lower overall cost to the NHS.
The NHS Long Term Plan presents a crucial opportunity to address the unmet need of people approaching the end of life, while improving costs and efficiency for the NHS. The need for high quality end of life care over the next decade is projected to increase dramatically, so this opportunity must not be missed.
Community-based end of life care plays a critical role
Community end of life care is one of the few interventions shown to be effective in reducing reliance on emergency and acute care, largely through preventing avoidable emergency admissions. In England there were over 1.5m Emergency Admissions for people in the last year of life in 2016, accounting for 9 million days spent in hospital at a cost of £2bn to the NHS. Emergency admissions for people approaching the end of life are increasing.NHS costs are projected to double in the next 20 years. High quality palliative care could result in 60,000 fewer deaths in hospital, saving over £180 million each year.
Despite this, community end of life care is still under-resourced, poorly coordinated and a low local priority for those planning future health and care services.There is a critical need for better out of hospital care to ensure every person approaching the end of their life, and their family and carers, has access to appropriate care, treatment and support. Without the right investment, strategic planning and prioritisation, the NHS will continue to see unnecessary rising emergency admissions and delayed transfers of care – with negative impacts across the health and care systems.
The NHS Long Term Plan work presents an excellent opportunity for workstreams within NHS England to support the delivery of improvements in end of life care for everyone, reducing people’s reliance on acute settings for care.
Read the statement in full here: End of Life Care Coalition LTP joint statement
Given the critical role that good end of life care can play in improving performance across local health systems, at the beginning of 2017, the End of Life Care Coalition decided to analyse plans to understand whether end of life care was being widely considered.
To access the full analysis, please go here.