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Ombudsman comments on new end of life care research

The BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care journal has today published a new research paper on commissioning palliative care services, which found significant variation in end of life care across the country.

Commenting on the paper, Alex Robertson, Executive Director of External Affairs and Strategy at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said:

It is deeply worrying that good end of life care remains a postcode lottery.

‘We have seen horrific cases of people dying without dignity, where they have been left in pain and their final wishes not communicated with their families.

‘NHS commissioners must understand local peoples’ needs so they can provide the best possible care and Government must support them and monitor progress.’

Background information:

In May 2015, the PHSO published the Dying without Dignity report which identified six themes in end of life care failings in England:

  1. Not recognising that people are dying, and not responding to their needs.
  2. Poor symptom control.
  3. Poor communication.
  4. Inadequate out-of-hours services.
  5. Poor care planning.
  6. Delays in diagnosis and referrals for treatment.

The PHSO upheld 83 complaints on end of life care in 2016, compared to 74 complaints in 2015 and 71 in 2014.