End the postcode lottery in provision of palliative care

A review of end-of-life care for adults has found many hospitals are failing to provide face-to-face palliative care specialists around the clock for those that need it. The report, led by the Royal College of Physicians, shows that has been steady progress in the care of dying people but there is still a lack of good specialist palliative care for those at the end of life. The review shows only 16 of 142 hospital sites in England offer specialist palliative care professionals on site 24/7.

Responding to the report, Shaun Walsh, Director of External Relations for Together for Short Lives said:

“We welcome the publication of The Royal College of Physicians’ End of Life Care Audit and the headline findings that there has been steady progress in the care of dying people. However, it’s disappointing news that many people are still not receiving good round the clock palliative care at the end of their life delivered by experts. This report reinforces Together for Short Lives’ call to address the postcode lottery in the provision of  good end of life care for those that need it.

"While the audit focuses on adult care, the problems it identifies are also present in end of life care for children, where there is also a lack in 24/7 care provision and a patchy provision of services across the UK which creates inequality in support for those children and young people who need it the most.

"All children and young people with life-shortening conditions should receive specialist palliative care throughout their life and importantly at their end of life – no matter where they live.

"Vitally, good end of life care relies having enough expert palliative care professionals to provide that care, good communication with the family, and pain and symptom management delivered round the clock. It also needs to be well planned and sustainably funded by commissioners

"Together for Short Lives is keen to build better understanding of this postcode lottery in provision so that inequalities can be addressed. We'd welcome the opportunity to work with government to address inconsistency in provision. That way we can help accelerate the progress in care of dying people, young and old, across the whole of the UK.”

You can read in more detail how we think the government and others can help to bring about round support for seriously ill children and their families here.

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