UK leads the world in provision of palliative care but standards can still improve

6 October 2015
The UK ranks first in the 2015 Quality of Death Index, a measure of the quality of palliative care in 80 countries around the world released today by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Its ranking is due to comprehensive national policies, the extensive integration of palliative care into the National Health Service, a strong hospice movement, and deep community engagement on the issue. The UK also came top in the first Quality of Death Index, produced in 2010. 

The Quality of Death Index, commissioned by the Lien Foundation, a Singaporean philanthropic organisation, is based on extensive research and interviews with over 120 palliative care experts from across the world. 

Although in comparative terms standards of palliative care in the UK are second to none, there is still room for improvement. An investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman into complaints about end-of-life care, published in May 2015, highlighted issues such as poor symptom control, poor communication and planning, not responding to the needs of the dying, inadequate out-of-hours services and delays in diagnosis and referrals for treatment.

Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care said:

“The UK is rightly viewed as a leader in palliative care, and we welcome the fact that once again it ranks first in the Quality of Death Index. At its best how the UK cares for people who are dying is absolutely world class with hospice care leading the way, but there can be no room for complacency, especially as the demand for palliative care is increasing. 

Despite excellent care which we should rightly be proud of, too many people in the UK are still being failed as they reach the end of their lives, with a series of hard hitting reports highlighting that dying people cannot consistently rely on access to pain relief, 24/7 care or coordinated care that would enable them to be cared for and die in the place of their choice, which for most people is in their own homes or in a hospice. We only have one chance to get care right for people who are dying, which is why we very much hope that the Government continues to look to improve end of life care for everyone who needs it and invests in caring for dying people in the forthcoming spending review, including by implementing the recommendations contained in the recent review of choice at the end of life.”

Further information:
  1. Read the full press release
  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 ( which aims to help transform public attitudes towards dying, death and bereavement in England and Wales.
  3. For all media enquiries including to arrange an interview 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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