UK General Election

The future of palliative care – charity leaders issue warning to govt & outline election priorities

The UK’s major party political leaders have all been given a stark warning that they must prioritise palliative and end of life care in their election manifestos in a letter from the country’s leading charities.

The letter asks that the next government make the necessary reforms to ensure everyone receives the best possible end of life or bereavement support. This is positioned as a practical imperative, as well as a moral one.

This is due to demand rising fast in the adult population and people of all ages living longer with multiple health conditions.

The letter highlights a joint manifesto for palliative and end of life care, which has identified five key policy priorities.

These include a new funding solution for hospices and palliative and end of life care – this is to expand access inequalities, reduce charitable donation reliance, and futureproof services.

A national palliative and end of life care delivery plan in every nation is second –  this includes ensuring 24/7 care access, commissioning that meets population needs, and a workforce that is equipped for the long term.

Thirdly, a guarantee that palliative and end of life care services meet each individual’s needs – personalised care and support planning for everyone and the sharing of plans to ensure joined up support.

Ending poverty among people at the end of life and tackle inequalities in palliative and end of life care is the penultimate target – this is to ensure those of working age can claim their state pension and other pension age benefits as well as deliver a cross-government strategy to address health inequalities.

Finally, improving support for families and carers of people living with a terminal illness –  i.e., better identification, needs assessments, financial and bereavement support for carers and extending statutory bereavement leave and pay to more bereaved people.

The letter has been signed by:

Heidi said: “It is clear no more time can be wasted; the government and healthcare system must act now.

“Our research shows that the demand for specialist palliative care services is expected to rise by 55% over the next decade. The constant uncertainty of funding will continue to be a threat to service provision until a sustainable solution is reached.”

It is estimated that 90% of adults who die would benefit from palliative and end of life care. Given the ageing UK population also, it is thought that approximately 32,000 more people would benefit from palliative care by 2029 compared to now.

“The next few years are critical for end of life care,” said Toby. “We know that many people do not get the palliative care they need at the end of their lives, and we know that our ageing population means demand for care will continue to grow over the next decades.

“Hospices are ready to meet this challenge, but they need a new funding model and support from the next government to ensure they can continue to provide their brilliant care for everyone who needs it, whenever they need it.”

Matthew added: “Death and dying is inevitable but getting it wrong at the end isn’t. If the next government fails to address the chaotic approach to end of life care, that failure will affect us all.”

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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