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Dying people 'deserve access to round-the-clock palliative care'

Published 22/10/2015

Marie Curie is calling for better round-the-clock services in light of the fact that around 110,000 people miss out on the palliative care they need every year
Marie Curie is calling for better round-the-clock services in light of the fact that around 110,000 people miss out on the palliative care they need every year

Dying people should have the right to access specialist end-of-life care seven days a week, a charity has said.

Marie Curie is calling for better round-the-clock services in light of the fact that around 110,000 people miss out on the palliative care they need every year.

In its poll of more than 2,000 adults, the charity found 86% agreed that terminally ill people should have the right to high quality care no matter where they live.

Some 81% also agreed that people with a terminal illness should have the right to specialist support every day of the week.

Figures suggest that only 21% of hospital trusts in England are providing face-to-face palliative care seven days a week. A new Access to Palliative Care Bill will have its second reading in the House of Lords on Friday.

Introduced by Baroness Ilora Finlay, the Bill would give everyone access to high quality care at end of life, no matter where they live.

This includes placing a duty on all clinical commissioning groups in England to provide access to pain and symptom control around the clock, specialist consultant cover and better training for staff.

In the survey, 87% of people said those who are terminally ill should be able to access pain relief around the clock and 85% thought they should be able to access such support at home. Just 14% said the Government should not be expected to invest more in training NHS and social care staff to care for dying people.

Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Marie Curie, said: "It is clear that the care and support that people with a terminal illness can expect as they approach the end of their life is something we as a nation feel passionately about.

"While the odds are stacked against private members' bills becoming law, improving access to high quality palliative care deserves parliamentary time and attention.

"Limited availability of palliative care for people who are terminally ill is nothing to be proud of."

In September, MPs overwhelmingly rejected changing the law to allow terminally ill people to end their lives. Earlier this week, Simon Binner from Surrey, who was suffering from motor neurone disease, ended his life at a Basel clinic.

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