1. ITV Report

Cancer patients in Lancashire denied wish to die at home

Generic hospital bed Photo: PA

Almost three quarters of cancer patients in England who die in hospital beds wanted to die at home. An estimated 890 people in Lancashire each year, according to new figures released today by Macmillan Cancer Support.

The charity say, 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.

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.

Alex Burton, 64, from Leyland in Lancashire said:

"My wife Dorothy was in hospital for 6 weeks at the end of life and was admitted several times in her last year. No one told her she was at the end of life or asked what she wanted. No one offered us social care support, and I believe it could have made a big difference. Caring for someone can be so tiring and stressful, you never get to clock off. My biggest regret was not getting her home to die. I'm going to have to live with that until I die."

Ciaran 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."

Macmillan Cancer Support is calling on the Government and the NHS to adopt the recommendations in the Time to choose report.