It was the best of times it was the worst of times- The worst place to die in the UK- London?

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Research published earlier this month by the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked The UK as the best place to die in the world; London may have the unenviable title of being the worst place to die in the UK.

A report conducted by London Cancer Alliance PallE8 and Marie Curie found that only 3/10 of London hospitals were able to provide 7-day end of life care. It was also found that end of life care planning does not feature in the strategic planning of the strategies of over half of London’s health and wellbeing boards. Is this reflective of a national healthcare system under continual strain unable to cope with demand in the densely populated boroughs of the capital?

End of life care is of paramount importance and planning palliative and supportive care at the end of one’s life should be given due consideration. Family members describe the quality of care given as being 10% worse in London than when compared to other parts of the UK. Also despite 2/3 of people expressing a wish to die in their own homes only a little over 1/3 in London actually do which is one of the worst statistics in the UK. The picture is worse still if you live alone, are from an ethnic minority or suffer from an illness other than cancer.

The London Assembly Health Committee is currently consulting on end of life care in the capital with the ambition of overcoming some of the issues facing Londoners towards the end of their lives. It will focus in particular on the issues faced by elderly Londoners who live alone but also looks to broader questions about end of life care. Perhaps the reason for such apparent poor levels of end of life care is the massive strain placed on London’s healthcare services when compared with those lesser populated areas of the UK. Adequate planning by those engaged with caring for those at the end of their life would help to improve outcomes in London to bring quality up to that experienced in the rest of the UK.

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