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Lack of support prevents cancer patients dying at home

Half of people with cancer in England do not receive the support they need to die at home, research claims.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows with the right support, 73% of people with cancer would prefer to die in their own home, yet only 27% currently do.

The survey of 22,292 bereaved relatives also found nearly half (46%) of cancer patients either received partial or no pain relief whatsoever when being cared for at home during the last few months of their life.

One in three (32%) of those polled described out of hours care as 'fair' or 'poor' and more than one in four (43%) said they did not receive enough support from health and social care service. 

“It is vital that the Government uses the opportunity of the forthcoming social care reforms to ensure that people are supported to die at home if they wish to do so,” said Gus Baldwin, Head of Public Affairs at Macmillan Cancer Support.

“Providing all cancer patients at the end of life with 24/7 community nursing would ensure they have the support they need, at all times day and night, and prevent expensive and unnecessary hospital admissions.”

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said he was “deeply concerned” by the survey findings and welcomed an increased focus on end of life care.