Reform of end-of-life care sought

Andover Advertiser: Macmillan Cancer Support has called for urgent reform of NHS end-of-life services Macmillan Cancer Support has called for urgent reform of NHS end-of-life services

The NHS could save tens of millions of pounds each year if more was done to allow cancer patients to die at home instead of in hospital, a charity has said.

New estimates from Macmillan Cancer Support suggest that the 36,400 patients who died in hospital in 2012, despite saying they would prefer to be in their own homes, cost the NHS £137 million.

But the charity said that had these patients been treated at home by community care teams, spending would have halved.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We urgently need to reform end-of-life services in England.

"Every day, around 100 cancer patients die in expensive hospital beds when they wanted to die at home.

"This is both morally wrong and a scandalous waste of precious NHS resources.

"It's very simple, there is a real opportunity for the NHS to spend its budget better and we know health commissioners as well as Macmillan support the idea.

"If up to £69 million could be saved by providing community care to cancer patients at the end of life in England, imagine the millions more that could be saved if the 600,000 people who die in the UK every year had an actual choice about where they die.

"We want this Government to publicly commit to implementing a system of free social care at the end of life in England and the next Government to make it a reality."

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