End-of-life care ‘must become election priority’

The National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) today called on all political parties to make funding end-of-life care a priority in the next parliament or risk a service crisis.

The charity said England and Wales faced a “ticking time-bomb” as the number of people dying each year is predicted to rise by 17% to 586,000 by 2030.

In a “manifesto” for end-of-life care, the NCPC warned that more people would die in a distressing manner and fewer would die in a place of their choice if service capacity were not maintained and quality improved.

The NCPC’s director of policy, Simon Chapman, said: “We hear a lot about the ageing population but we hear less about the number of people dying and that is going to put huge pressures on the system.”

Its five pledges are:

• Full implementation of the government’s 10-year end-of-life care strategy for England, published in 2008, by maintaining end-of-life care funding in real terms at 2010-11 levels, taking account of the rising number of deaths.

• A cabinet committee for end-of-life care to make it a cross-departmental priority in government.

• Comprehensive out-of-hours services to deliver palliative care advice, nursing and pain relief.

• Palliative care training to be a core requirement for health and social care staff throughout their career development.

• Support for the NCPC-led Dying Matters coalition’s work in raising awareness of end-of-life issues to equip people to become confident about discussing their dying wishes.

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