Some hospitals 'falling short' on end of life care

Hospitals are "falling short" on providing quality care for patients in their final days, according to a review. The National Care of the Dying Audit for Hospitals warned a postcode lottery with "significant" variations in care for dying people.

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Govt: 'Seriously concerned' about variations in care

The Government is "seriously concerned" about the postcode lottery emerging in the standard of care given to patients in their last days of life.

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said:

All patients should be receiving high quality and compassionate care in their last days of life - there can be no excuse for anything less.

This report shows evidence of very good care but I am seriously concerned about the variations in care, and improvements are needed in the way some clinicians communicate with patients and support families.

I am determined this should improve.

To help address these issues, we are working on plans to support all services in giving everyone in the last days and hours of life, and their families, the good quality, compassionate care they deserve.

– Norman Lamb

'Under half of patients' unaware they are dying

Less than half of patients capable of a discussion about their palliative care are unaware they are dying because healthcare staff fail to communicated properly with them, a study has found.

The National Care of the Dying Audit for Hospitals also found:

  • Only 17% of patients were informed they were being assessed to see if they needed extra artificial hydration or nutrition.
  • One in five were asked about their spiritual needs.
  • Almost a quarter (24%) said they did not feel involved in discussions about their dying relatives' care or treatment.
  • A further 37% felt there was a poor level of emotional support given to them by the healthcare team.
  • And a quarter said they did not feel adequately supported during the last two days of their loved ones' life.

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Hospitals 'falling short' on caring for the dying

Some hospitals are "falling short" on providing comprehensive care for patients in their final days and hours, a review has found.

The quality of care differed significantly from hospital to hospital, researchers warned. Credit: PA

Medics were failing to communicate properly with the dying and more support for family members was needed, according to the National Care of the Dying Audit for Hospitals.

The audit also warned there were "significant" variations in the quality of care provided by different hospitals in England.

Dr Kevin Stewart, chair of the audit's steering group said: "Although some aspects of care are good in hospitals in England, I am deeply concerned that some hospitals are falling short of the excellent care that should be provided to both dying people and those important to them.

"In particular, communication with patients and their families is generally poor."

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