Campaigners want free end-of-life social care

  • Campaigners say that free end-of-life social care is needed to save the NHS in England money and improve patient care.

    Macmillan Cancer Support says that the NHS in England could save £69m a year on the care of cancer patients alone. Analysis based on a review of patient surveys, official NHS spending data and interviews with senior decision-makers, reports the BBC. /images/careandsupport.jpg

    Whilst social care is currently means-tested ministers are considering providing it to everyone at the end of life. About half of people end up dying in hospitals however eight in ten say they would rather die at home.

    Macmillan's analysis has said this equated to about 180,000 people spending their last days in hospitals against their wishes.

    The cost to the NHS of this was estimated to be £685m a year, Macmillan said. If those patients were cared for in the community via a combination of community NHS services and social care the cost would be £340m - a saving of £345m.

    Macmillan chief executive Ciaran Devane said: "We urgently need to reform end-of-life services in England. Every day around 100 cancer patients die in expensive hospital beds when they wanted to die at home. This is both morally wrong and a scandalous waste of precious NHS resources."

    A Department of Health representative said: "We want to make sure that people nearing the end of their lives can choose where to spend their last days and have more of a say on how they are cared for. We are currently reviewing how to improve the quality and experience of care at the end of life and the system for funding it."

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