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Specialist palliative care means people can die in their own homes

The number of people able to die in their own homes improves with the involvement of specialised palliative care, a new report has shown. 

The National Survey of Patient Activity Data for Specialist Palliative Care Services, produced by Public Health England (PHE) and the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) shows that 46% of patients receiving specialist palliative care are able to die in the comfort of their homes, compared to just 22% nationally.

Clinical lead for PHE's National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, Professor Julia Verne touched on the importance of palliative in patients with all diagnoses.

She said: “Every 70 seconds someone in England dies. Around half still die in hospital. Specialist palliative care services working together with community services are essential to supporting patients if they choose to die at home. This survey, the only source of data on the range of services provided by specialist palliative care services, shows some important trends and demonstrates how these services are responding to patient choice”.

Of the patients referred to specialist palliative care services, the report showed 45% were discharged.

Few patients were shown to die in hospices, with 85% of the patients being discharged to their homes.

The number of non-cancer patients receiving in-hospital palliative care has also risen, with 27% of people receiving these specialist services having a diagnosis other than cancer.

In outpatient and day care services non-cancer patients account for one in five people being treated.

In spite of the rise in non-cancer patients receiving palliative care the figures remain low, with cancer being responsible for around 29% of deaths.

Overall 66% of specialist palliative care providers replied to the survey, although response rates differed throughout the country between 89% and 33% in Cheshire and Mersey respectively.