End-of-life care 'varies in quality'
Dying patients may be more likely to be shown 'dignity and respect' in a hospice rather than a hospital, a survey of bereaved family members has revealed.
Research carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 87% of doctors and 80% of nurses in hospices showed dignity and respect all the time.
In hospitals, however, staff are less likely to be as considerate, as it emerged that only 57% of doctors and 48% of nurses were deemed to show dignity and respect towards terminal patients all the time.
This revelation could prompt the NHS to take action as it also emerged that dying people are more likely to spend their last days in a hospital rather than a hospice.
The Department of Health-commissioned report, which sought the opinions of some 22,292 people who had recently experienced a loss in the family, went on to reveal that three-quarters of people in England believe that end-of life care in the country is good, excellent or outstanding.
Meanwhile, the news that some patients receive no or very few painkillers at home has prompted Macmillan Cancer Support to call for better home care for dying patients.
The charity feels this is particularly important given that most terminal patients would like to see out their remaining days at home.
Imelda Redmond, Marie Curie Cancer Care's director of policy and public affairs, said: "This is the first time bereaved relatives have been given a voice. Families have told us, in large numbers, that their loved ones do not always get the care they need or deserve at the end of life.
"There is no reason why we can't provide a dignified and respectful death, regardless of setting, location or diagnosis. It is now time to learn from these findings and make improvements."
Care services minister Paul Burstow said: "All people, regardless of their age or condition, should get the best quality care at the end of life.
"(This survey) reveals a wide variation in the quality of care across the country.
"There is more to be done to improve both the way care is coordinated for people in their own homes and the quality of care in hospital."