End of life care will be placed under “an intolerable strain” in coming years, according to a new analysis by Macmillan Cancer Support.
By 2020, nearly 144,000 people a year in England will die of cancer – the equivalent of one person dying from the disease every four minutes, the charity has estimated.
Calling for more investment in community services, Macmillan said the figures highlighted an urgent need to tackle the country’s “deeply imperfect” approach to end of life care.
An independent review of choice in end of life care that was commissioned by ministers and published last year made a raft of recommendations, including the need to expand out-of-hours community services.
The government has yet to respond to the recommendations, but Macmillan said they should be funded in full.
“It is shocking to think that one person will die of cancer every four minutes, but worse still that many people dying of cancer may not get the care they need, and that their final wishes will remain unfulfilled,” said Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support.
“For many people with cancer, as well as other conditions, ‘a good death’ is possible, but it requires resources, particularly for district and community nursing teams,” said Amanda Cheesley, RCN professional lead for long term conditions and end of life care.
“It’s also something we need to be much better at talking about otherwise underfunding and pressures will mean more dying people in hospital against their wishes,” said Ms Cheesley.
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“Doctors need the time, support and sufficient training necessary for caring for people at their end of life.” Dr Ian Wilson, BMA, March 2016
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