The report A different ending: Addressing inequalities in end of life care is illuminating in documenting the differences in end of life care experienced across the UK.
Several key findings are brought to light within the report: –
· A third of CCGs fail to properly assess care needs for those at the end of life
· Those in ethnic minorities and from poorer backgrounds are more likely to receive insufficient end of life care
· Commissioners and providers may be falling foul of the Equality Act as they fail to consider a range of groups in care planning for an area
· End of life care is still not something which is being readily spoken about by healthcare staff in good enough time to allow those nearing the end of their lives to make appropriate provisions to be in control of the way that they die
Good examples of end of life care were found but there were inconsistencies in experiences of end of life care received by different groups of people by virtue of location, ethnicity or lack of wealth.
Commenting on the report, Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice at CQC, said “While we know there are hospitals, GPs, care homes, hospices and community services across the country that are providing good and even outstanding care to people at the end of their lives, one person that does not get this is one person too many.
“Family members that we spoke to told us they felt marginalised because their loved ones did not have the same level of access to services, or felt like they were treated differently to other people receiving end of life care.
“A person’s diagnosis, age, ethnic background or social circumstances should not affect the quality of care they receive at any point, but certainly not at the end of their lives. What is important is that everyone receives care based on their individual needs, delivered with compassion and sensitivity by staff with the right skills, and that there is regular and effective communication between staff and the dying person and their family.
“We found that where commissioners and services are taking an equality-led approach, responding to individuals’ needs, people receive better care.
“We are committed to encouraging the improvements in services that are needed so that everyone receives the high-quality and personalised care they deserve at the end of their lives.”
This report is welcomed and is far-reaching in its scope and quite critical in its findings. The report set out with the ambition of targeting those individuals that it perceived were less likely to receive good care and consequently the report was always going to draw a negative conclusion. That said what needs to happen following this report is more support should be offered to all to ensure that individuals approaching the end of life, no matter their circumstances, are granted the end of life care they request.