‘Cancer patients are being denied wish to die at home’

Macmillan Cancer Support released figures on cancer patients who were dying in hospital, against their wishes
Macmillan Cancer Support released figures on cancer patients who were dying in hospital, against their wishes

A charity is calling on changes in social care after new figures it released showed that almost three quarters of people in England who died in hospital beds wanted to die at home.

Macmillan Cancer Support said that equates to around 865 cancer patients in Sussex each year and applying the three quarters figure (73 per cent) to Eastbourne, that 77 patients from the town who died in hospital last year would have died in hospital against their wishes.

Analysis from a recent national survey of bereaved relatives and carers reveals that for cancer patients last year, care in hospitals was often subpar to the care received at home. Of those who died at home, 63 per cent rated the overall quality of care received as excellent or outstanding, compared to 37 per cent of those who died in hospitals.

Existing Macmillan research reveals that the vast majority of health professionals agree that access to social care services is crucial for keeping people out of hospital. This week Macmillan launches 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 before the next general election in 2015.

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said, “As the Government makes up its mind about whether to fund and implement free social care at the end of life, thousands of people with terminal cancer are being left to die in hospital beds against their wishes.”

Alice Webster, director of Nursing, added, “East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust continues to work very closely with our colleagues at St Wilfrid’s Hospice and St Michael’s Hospice to try and ensure that patients achieve their wish to die in the place of their choosing, be that hospital, home or hospice.

“We are all committed to the highest possible end of life care for our patients and working closely with Macmillan Cancer Support we will continue to strive to achieve this for all our patients.”