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Hospice backs call for radical rethink in care.

A survey published this week by the charity Marie Curie revealed that a shortage of specialist palliative care services and the difficulty of accessing social care are major issues facing people in the UK with a life-limiting illness.
Pam portrait
A survey published this week by the charity Marie Curie revealed that a shortage of specialist palliative care services and the difficulty of accessing social care are major issues facing people in the UK with a life-limiting illness. 

Marie Curie engaged Ipsos MORI to survey 500 clinical professionals across the UK and their study also found there were contrasting opinions about the level of care provided in different care settings. 

While 53% of respondents agreed that the needs of patients are adequately met overall, far fewer agreed that the same is true for those using out-of-hours social care (15%) or in accident & emergency (15%). Only a third of respondents (31%) agreed that out-of-hours medical care met peoples' needs adequately, while 45% agreed the same was true for hospital in-patients. A larger proportion (53%) agreed that people receiving care in their own homes had their needs met but no less than 91% of respondents said they thought the needs of people with a life-limiting illness were met by those cared for in hospices. 

Commenting on the survey the CEO of Saint Francis Hospice Pam Court (pictured above) said: "We welcome this report, which again focuses attention on what urgently needs to change to improve the care for people with a life-limiting illness. 

"The report shows how well hospice care is regarded by a range of health professionals but also highlights the challenge ahead in order to raise the percentage of health professionals who say patients' needs are met at home (currently 53%) to the 91% level achieved for care within hospices. 

"We are doing our best to care for more people but with only 27% of our funding provided by the NHS for the financial year ahead, and a growing population that is living longer there are, unfortunately, limitations on what we can achieve. We are putting more resources into caring for people in their own homes and I hope that through close working with our partners in local authorities and the NHS we can avoid the danger of local people falling through the gaps in care service provision or putting additional strain on stretched A & E departments." 

Pam also highlighted the potential long-term economic benefits of investing adequately in end of life care services including hospices when she referred to another report out today from the Personal Social Service Research Unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). 

"The LSE has estimated that providing palliative care to those who need it could potentially generate net savings of more than £30 million in England as people aren't left blocking beds in hospitals or constantly putting demand on GPs and other parts of the health system," she said. 

On behalf of Marie Curie, Ipsos MORI interviewed an online sample of 500 clinical professionals from across the UK. Interviews were conducted between 12th and 31st March 2015.  The sample was made up of the following specialisms: Hospital Based Physicians, General Practice, Oncology Nursing and Specialist Nursing, Anaesthesiology and Hospice and Palliative medicine.
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