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Labour backs free end-of-life social care – but does government?

Andy Burnham Flickr Salford Uni.jpg

Labour has today backed giving people nearing the end of life free social care, organised and funded by the NHS, in order to enable more people to die at home as opposed to in hospital.

The logic is that removing the risk of social care charges from people at home would remove a disincentive for people to stay there.

Effectively it would extend NHS continuing healthcare to all people with terminal illnesses on end-of-life care registers.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham (left) will flesh out the details in a speech to Unison’s health conference today.

If this idea sounds familiar that’s because it was put forward by the coalition government’s independent palliative care funding review this year.

I’m trying to work out whether the government ever provided any support for this proposal or not. Does anyone have any ideas?

The palliative care funding review said its proposals were cost-neutral – money spent on social care would be recouped in lower hospital costs, so there shouldn’t (you would think) be an economic/public finance reason for rejecting the policy.

I’ve just seen some figures from Marie Curie Cancer Care showing that the initial cost to the state introducing free end-of-life social care (per year presumably) would be £32.2m; however £34m (again, a year, I think) would be saved by getting 30,000 patients to reduce their hospital stays by four days at the end of life.

(Image on Flickr from University of Salford)

Mithran Samuel

About Mithran Samuel

Mithran Samuel is adults' editor at Community Care.

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