Health charity Sue Ryder says that the NHS is failing to provide access to 24-hour support for the majority of patients needing end of life care.
The charity has found that almost 92% of NHS clinical commissioning groups do not provide round the clock telephone helplines, reports the BBC.
Guidelines say there should be 24-hour telephone services and the NHS says it is “working hard to make changes”.
Out of 180 CCGs which responded to requests for information from the charity, only 8% said their local area had a dedicated 24-hour help line and palliative care coordination centre.
“Service providers and commissioners are expected to ensure provision for specialist palliative medical and nursing cover routinely 9am to 5pm seven days a week and a 24-hour telephone advice service,” guidance says.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), service providers should ensure that carers and terminally ill should be offered information “in an accessible and sensitive way, in response to their needs and preferences.”
Bee Wee, NHS England’s national clinical director for end of life care, said: “Over the past year we have been working hard to make changes and move towards a palliative care service that gives everyone a choice about how and where they spend their final days. It is really important that dying people, and those close to them, have access to care, support and advice whenever they need it, so we support this as an important issue to address.”
Sue Ryder chief executive Heidi Travis said: “People who are dying, their carers and their families should be able to access the care they want, when they want. Unfortunately many areas of the country simply don’t have the services in place to make this ambition a reality.”
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