Charities in end-of-life care plea
Millions of pounds could be saved by the NHS if the majority of people who died of terminal illnesses in hospital did so at home as most wish, charities have said.
Figures from the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey of bereaved people found that 85% of those who died in hospital in 2013 had expressed a desire to die at home.
Marie Curie, which provides care and support to those with terminal illness, said people are being denied the chance to die where they would prefer because of a number of factors including a lack of 24/7 community support, poor coordination between services and the failure to provide fast and free social care support for people at the end of life.
But the charity said there is major scope for efficiency savings to be made by supporting those who want to spend their final days at home to do so.
With access to high-quality nursing care in the community, total care costs could be as much as £500 lower per person.
All the main political parties have made some kind of commitment to improve choice at the end of life and to support more people to die at home, but Marie Curie - representing a coalition of other charities - said whoever comes into power in the next parliament needs to set out how they will do this.
Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Marie Curie, said: "It's time to change the way we care for people with a terminal illness.
"Fewer than 5% of people say they want to be in hospital at the end of their lives, yet around 50% of people who die do so in hospital, often with no clinical need to be there.
"Pressure is increasing on NHS budgets and A&E departments are already over-stretched.
"The evidence shows that it makes financial sense for the NHS to support people to be cared for at home in their last weeks and days. This is also what the majority of people with a terminal illness would prefer.
"Together, we are calling on all parties and the next government to set out how they will introduce fast and free social care for everyone nearing the end of their lives to reduce pressure on hospitals and deliver genuine choice."
Marie Curie has been working in partnership with a coalition of charities who support people at the end of their lives. These are Cicely Saunders International, Hospice UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the National Council for Palliative Care and Sue Ryder.