Fewer than half of newly formed Health and Wellbeing Boards have considered needs of dying people

22 November 2012
Just 38 (46%) of 83 newly created Health and Wellbeing Boards with public strategies have considered the needs of dying people, according to research published today (attached) by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC).

What about end of life care: Mapping England’s Health and Wellbeing Boards’ vision for dying people, finds that although a number of Boards have set out in their strategies how they will improve end of life care, for example by better identification of people who are dying and co-ordinating care and bereavement support, many have failed to do so.

The report also raises concerns that many of the boards, set up by Local Authorities as part of the Government’s health reforms, have not made their strategy public.

Key decision-makers from the NHS, social services and public health are in an excellent position to review the provision and coordination of end of life care services and encourage new and innovative ways of working to better meet their population’s needs and wishes. One board reflected on the fact that their strategy showed that their Borough performs significantly worse than the national average for end of life care and stated that “People will tend to be taken to A&E when they become ill and, if their poor prognosis is not recognised or if support in the community cannot be arranged quickly, it is likely that they will die in hospital”. The board has taken action by declaring end of life care as one of its two top priorities over the next five years, and has set out a plan to deliver better care and choice for people in its community.

Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of NCPC and the Dying Matters coalition, said: 

“We really want to encourage these new boards to have a public debate with their communities about the priorities for good end of live care and support. Healthwatch, the new voice of local people, has an important seat and are ideally placed to help drive forward the change that the public tell us they want to see, alongside local councillors and decision makers.

“We’re calling for Health and Wellbeing Boards to seize the opportunity to join up support for people approaching the end of life. History shows us that overlooking end of life care in major strategies leads to costly fragmentation in care and support that does not meet peoples’ needs or wishes. This is not a niche issue applying to some people or communities – dying affects us all”.

NCPC has also published an Action Sheet to help health and wellbeing boards consider their vision for people approaching the end of life and is promoting its use amongst board members.

Notes to editors

  1. All 152 upper tier local authorities in England are required by the Health and Care Act 2012 to establish a Health and Wellbeing Board and to publish and consult on a local strategy before April 2013 - when boards take on statutory responsibilities to improve the health and wellbeing of their local population, promote integration of services and reduce health inequalities. Board members include local authority directors of public health, adult social services and children’s services as well as elected representatives, Healthwatch and the Clinical Commissioning Group.
  2. What about end of life care? Mapping England’s Health & Wellbeing Boards’ vision for dying people is published by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC). The report can be downloaded here.
  3. The report is accompanied by a new Action Sheet for Health & Wellbeing Boards launched this month as part of NCPC’s What about end of life care? toolkit. A hardcopy of the toolkit and six action sheets have been sent to NCPC subscribers and is available to download at www.ncpc.org.uk/library. Contact NCPC at publications@ncpc.org.uk or call 020 7697 1520 for more information.
  4. NCPC 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.
  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

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