Inpatient specialist palliative care services benefiting from increased capacity

Date: 
19 June 2013
Specialist palliative care services have seen increased activity and more available beds in inpatient services, according to a new report out today from the National Council for Palliative Care and Public Health England.

Latest figures from the new report, National Survey of Patient Activity Data for Specialist Palliative Care Services, Minimum Data Set for 2011-2012 (MDS), show that the mean number of patients seen in inpatient units is at its highest level in more than ten years, with the average number of available beds (those that are being or can be used) also at a high. The proportion of occupied beds has also remained high at 74.8%, reflecting efficient use of beds, although there remain considerable variations across the country.

Specialist palliative care services have also made considerable progress in opening up to non-cancer patients, but there remains a long way to go. The most striking increases have been in Hospital Support and Outpatient services, where non-cancer diagnoses now account for over one fifth of all diagnoses. Day and community care also show a steady increase of supporting people with non-cancer diagnoses. For specialist palliative care inpatient units the proportion of patients with a diagnosis other than cancer has increased from 3% in 1997-98 to 11%.

The report also finds that people receiving specialist palliative care are more likely to be able to die at home – the place where most people say that want to die. Nearly half the people receiving specialist palliative care in the community (49.8%) died in their home and less than a quarter (23.9%) died in hospital. This compares with ONS data for 2011 for all deaths, which shows that 21.8% died at home and 51.5% in hospital.

As in previous years, the MDS report finds that nearly half of people (45%) referred to a specialist palliative care in-patient service are discharged to their home, further dispelling the myth that people only go into a hospice to die.

Speaking today Simon Chapman, Director of Public and Parliamentary Engagement for the National Council for Palliative Care said:

“Five years on from the End of Life Care Strategy specialist palliative care services are showing encouraging progress, but there’s still a long way to go as too many people continue to have problems accessing the services and support they need. Improving end of life care must remain a priority for policymakers, commissioners and service providers, so that all those who need it receive the care and support that is right for them.”

Dr Bee Wee, National Clinical Director for End of Life Care commented:

“This latest MDS report confirms that welcome progress is being made across specialist palliative care services, including in opening up to non-cancer patients and providing care across a range of settings. However, there remain worrying variations in service provision which must be addressed as a priority if we are to reduce inequalities in access to specialist palliative care.”

Notes to editors

  1. National Survey of Patient Activity Data for Specialist Palliative Care Services, Minimum Data Set for 2011-2012 (MDS) is published by the National Council for Palliative Care and Public Health England’s National End of Life Care Intelligence Network. It is available as a free download here.
  2. The National Council for Palliative Care is the umbrella charity for all those involved in palliative, end of life and hospice care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also leads the Dying Matters Coalition (www.dyingmatters.org) which aims to help transform public attitudes towards dying, death and bereavement in England.
  3. Public Health England is a new executive agency of the Department of Health that took up its full responsibilities on 1 April, 2013. PHE works with national and local government, industry and the NHS to protect and improve the nation's health and support healthier choices and will be addressing inequalities by focusing on removing barriers to good health. To find out more visit www.gov.uk/phe or follow on Twitter @PHE_uk.
  4. The National End of Life Care Intelligence Network (NEoLCIN) is part of Public Health England. It helps the NHS and its partners to commission and deliver high quality end of life care in a way that makes the most efficient use of resources and responds to the wishes of dying people and their families. The NEoLCIN plays a vital role in supporting the implementation of the National End of Life Care Strategy. For more information, see www.endoflifecare-intelligence.org.uk
  5. For all media enquiries please contact Joe Levenson, Director of Communications at the National Council for Palliative Care on 020 7697 1520 or 07795 158003.

 

 

Share your story

A central part of NCPC's work is listening to what people with personal experience of palliative and end of life care have to say. Please help us by sharing your story.

Share your story