UK leads the way in palliative care

This week the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) published its 2015 Quality of Death Index – a measure of the quality of palliative care provided in 80 countries across the globe.

It shows that the UK leads the world in palliative care, ranking first in the index, due to its comprehensive national policies, strong hospice movement, the extensive integration of palliative care into the NHS and deep community engagement on the issue.

Commenting on the new Index, our Chief Executive Nigel Harding said, “We are delighted the index reflects the high quality provision of palliative care in the UK and that its strong hospice movement is recognised as a key factor in this. Caring for the people in North West Surrey, we are pleased to have played our part.”

Here at Woking & Sam Beare Hospices we also help share our expertise internationally through our longstanding relationship with Maastricht University and our support of their GPs in training, who join our Hospices for six-week secondments, gaining first-hand experience of the management of palliative care. We are also looking at other international relationships.

However, the index also highlights there is still room for improvement in the UK. It cites the report published by the health ombudsman earlier this year highlighting issues for concern such as poor symptom control, poor communication and planning, inadequate out-of-hours services for dying people and delays in diagnosis and referrals for treatment.

Nigel Harding added, “Although there is much good practise in the UK, there is still a lot more to do and we need all patients who need it to have access to specialist palliative care and for everyone to join in the conversation about discussing and planning for their end of life care. This means designing a whole system approach with healthcare partners to enable a 24/7, seven day a week service, engagement with our communities and appropriate funding streams.”

At present our Hospices only receive about 20% of funding from the NHS and our communities therefore play an important part in driving our work forward.

As highlighted in the health ombudsman report published earlier this year, there are still failings in end of life care in other settings and we are working incredibly hard with for example with Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals to reduce the high numbers of people dying in hospital, who would be much better supported in other settings, including in our Hospices or their own homes supported by our specialist doctors, nurses and therapists.

Not only would this provide more choice for dying people about where they spend their final days, it would also free up many hospital beds, at a time when the NHS is facing huge pressure.

Linked to this work, in the next few weeks we plan to start work on building a new Hospice in Goldsworth Park, Woking, which we firmly believe will help us to transform palliative and end of life care in North West Surrey. As a charity, all this great work and patient care can’t be done without the support of the local community. We hope the success of the UK in this index demonstrates to everyone just how important every donation is and how important it is to keep fundraising and supporting our work.

Read more about how you can support us here.

Find out more about our vision for transforming palliative care in the heart of Surrey here.