Getting Serious About Prevention

13 October 2015
Our report calls for action to prevent unnecessary and costly hospital stays at the end of life.

Healthcare commissioners and service providers need to do more to avoid unnecessary and costly hospital stays at the end of life and to enable dying people to be cared for in the place of their choice, according to a new report out today from the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC), Hospice UK and Marie Curie.

The report, Getting serious about prevention: enabling people to stay out of hospital at the end of life, warns that the NHS is paying too much to care for people approaching the end of life in hospitals, where they often don’t want or need to be. This is despite the fact that NHS England’s Five Year Forward View made clear that £30 billion savings in the NHS need to be found by 2020, and that the financial costs of avoidable hospital admissions at the end of life and problems transferring people out of hospital are considerable. Currently, around half of people in England and Wales die in hospital, yet less than 5% of us say that this is where we would want to die.

The report makes a number of recommendations for commissioners, service providers and health and social care staff. These include commissioning 24/7 care in community settings, better use of anticipatory prescribing of medicines, improving coordination between hospitals and community settings, encouraging better sharing of records of people’s end of life wishes and a more proactive approach by health and care staff to identifying and meeting the needs of people approaching the end of life.

Speaking today, Simon Chapman, Director of Policy, Intelligence and Public Affairs at the National Council for Palliative Care said:

“High quality end of life care and support should be available for everyone who needs it, where and when they need it – which sadly too often isn’t happening at present. If we are to better meet the needs of dying people then we need to make more appropriate use of hospital provision and not use it as a default option when people would rather be cared for elsewhere. This will not only help ensure people’s wishes are met, but will also help save time, money and resources that could be better directed.

With winter looming and a likely increased demand for hospital beds, it has never been more important for commissioners and service providers alike to work together and to take action. Getting end of life care right is an essential part of putting the NHS onto a sustainable footing. Local providers and commissioners need to be much more proactive about making sure that people approaching the end of life are identified and plans are put in place for them to get the care they need in the place they want to be.”

Simon Jones, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said:

“Most people in the last year of life will experience an emergency admission. However, if the right community-based palliative care nursing services were in place to care for terminally ill people, many could be avoided.

Local commissioners can effect change now by moving more care for terminally ill people from hospitals to the community. We know more people want to die at home than currently do. We also know that making this shift can lead to cost savings and reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions, which can be distressing for everyone concerned.”

Jonathan Ellis, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Hospice UK, said:

“The current over-reliance on hospital care for dying people goes against what the majority of people say they would prefer at the end of life. Economically, it also makes little sense, particularly in these especially straitened times when NHS resources are under more pressure than ever before.

Hospice UK is calling on the Government to back more local partnerships led by hospices offering alternative care which, if expanded nationally, could reduce the number of people dying in hospital by a fifth and also generate £80m in savings for the NHS. Healthcare commissioners and service providers must embrace more palliative care options beyond hospital, if dying people are to receive the care they need and to ensure more cost-effective care delivery.”

Click here to download Getting Serious About Prevention now.

Further information

  1. For all media enquiries please contact Toby Scott at the National Council for Palliative Care on 020 7697 1520.
  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. Visit or follow us on Twitter @NCPC_Tweets. It also leads the Dying Matters Coalition ( which aims to help transform public attitudes towards dying, death and bereavement in England and Wales.
  3. Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice care and the only membership body for organisations providing hospice care. It supports and champions the work of more than 200 of these organisations across the UK. For further information about hospice care visit or follow on Twitter @hospiceukPA.
  4. Marie Curie – care and support through terminal illness. Marie Curie is the UK’s leading charity for people with any terminal illness. The charity helps people living with a terminal illness and their families make the most of the time they have together by delivering expert hands-on care, emotional support, research and guidance. Marie Curie employs more than 2,700 nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals, and with its nine hospices around the UK, is the largest provider of hospice beds outside the NHS. For more information visit Like us at Follow us on

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