The£12m programme aims to skill up all NHS staff who provide end of life care so that wherever a person dies - in hospital, in a hospice or at home - they receive good care and are treated with dignity.
The joint report from Ian Philp and Mike Richards, the national directors for older people and cancer, charts the progress the NHS has made during the past year since the End of Life Care Programme was launched.
Key achievements are that already nearly a third of GP practices have introduced new ways of working and that two thirds of hospital trusts have implemented the recommended Liverpool Care Pathway in at least one ward. This means taking the best of hospice care - such as good communication with the patient and family and symptom control - into hospitals and other settings such as care homes.
National cancer director Professor Richards said:
'Around 500,000 people die in England each year in hospitals, care homes or at home. We need to ensure that all of these people receive high quality care and that wherever possible they are enabled to live and die in the place of their choice. The End of Life Care Programme will help to make this a reality. Good progress has been made in the first year, but we must now maintain the momentum.'
National director for older people Professor Philp said:
'This report highlights examples of innovative work across the country to improve end of life care and ensure patients die with dignity. It underlines the importance of key partnerships with both statutory and voluntary organisations to achieve results.
'For example, Waveney PCT are working to ensure that patients who wish to die at home are being offered this option. They recruited a nurse co-ordinator who planned care for patients based on their wishes and provided patient and family support through the journey.'
The recently published 'Our health, our care, our say' set out a programme of action to deliver the government commitment to improve choice for all patients about where they live and die. Part of this strategy will include extending the current end of life care programme to cover the whole country and develop 'rapid response' services.
The End of Life Care programme is led by strategic health authorities is coordinated by a small national team who support local implementation.
- The Gold Standards Framework, the Liverpool Care Pathway and the Preferred Place of Care were recommended in Improving Supportive and Palliative Care for Adults with Cancer (National Institute for Clinical Excellence, 2004).
- The Year One report for the NHS End of Life Care Programme is available on the Department of Healthwebsite www.dh.gov.uk/endoflifecare and the NHS website www.endoflifecare.nhs.uk
- The End of Life Care programme was as a direct result of the commitment in 'Building on the Best, Choice, Responsiveness and Equity'. This commitment was to take forward training programmes so that all adult patients, irrespective of diagnosis, nearing the end of life would have access to high quality palliative care and be able to live and die in the place of their choice.
- The Our health, our care, our say White Paper sets out a vision to provide people with good quality social care and NHS services in the communities where they live.