Hundreds of people in Herts spend the last hours of their life in a hospital bed when they would rather be at home, a report has found.
The findings by Macmillan Cancer Support have been welcomed by both the Hospice of St Francis and Rennie Grove Hospice Care, who agree that more needs to be done.
Around 515 people in Herts die in hospital beds each year when they wanted to be at home according to Macmillan.
The cancer charity has also revealed that care in hospitals is often sub-par to the care received at home.
It was also reported that two out of five people with terminal cancer were not always treated with dignity and respect by hospital doctors during their last hospital admission.
Macmillan has just launched a new report – Time to Choose – which sets out new recommendations for improving choice at end of life for cancer patients. It also calls on the government to make social care free for everyone in the last weeks of life.
But Dr Ros Taylor from the Hospice of St Francis said: “The issue is about so much more than simply providing free social care at the end of life. Even if this becomes law, I suspect it will be severely limited in order to be affordable, meaning that responsibility for home-caring will still predominantly lie with informal family carers doing 90 per cent of the care. This army of carers needs support.”
She also stressed the importance of people thinking ahead and having brave conversations so that their preferences at the end of life are more likely to be met.
Dr Taylor said: “Already, our lead palliative care consultant, Dr Sharon Chadwick, is working extremely closely with our local hospital, Watford General, to review and influence the quality of end of life care and to explore ways to speed up discharge if that is the patient’s wish.”
Rennie Grove Hospice Care spokesman Gemma Baxter said the charity’s main issue is that only 15 per cent of its running costs come from the NHS, the rest is made up through fundraising and donations.
Gemma said: “We would like to see more statutory funding directed towards specialist nursing care in patients’ homes so that everyone who wishes to die at home can do so.”
Find out more at www.stfrancis.org.uk and www.renniegrove.org