We’re calling for action now on palliative care

Everyone’s experience at the end of their life is different. The stories of how people die are as individual and complex as their lives.

At Marie Curie, we hear many thousands of those stories every year.

You can read six of them in The way we die now, a collection of stories we’ve released today to highlight the inconsistent, often unsatisfactory, nature of care for people with a terminal illness in the UK.

Millions concerned

These stories need to be heard; not because they’re unusual, but because they aren’t. Too often, we hear from families that the care and support they wanted was not always there when they needed it.

We know millions of people are concerned about this happening to them or their loved ones. Less than half of people aged over 50 in the UK are confident they will get the care they need at the end of their life, according to a new YouGov survey commissioned by Marie Curie. 

Source: YouGov plc online survey involving 1,006 adults aged 50+ in UK, Oct 2015

Sadly, that concern is justified. In fact, one in four people in the UK don’t get the care and support they need at the end of their lives.

This is deeply worrying. Imagine if so few of us were confident in our children getting the right care as they were born – we should treat this as an issue of equal significance, since they both affect each and every one of us.

The time for warm words and rhetoric is over. We believe everyone should have the right to palliative care when they need it.

Ring-fenced funding

The Treasury, as part of its wide-ranging Spending Review, has the ability and opportunity to help transform the way care is provided to people with a terminal illness now and in the future.

We’re calling for the Treasury to ring-fence £130 million in this month’s Spending Review to kick-start the improvements needed to the care available for people with a terminal illness in England.

This investment would help re-organise local services, provide more nursing and social care support in the community and help prevent many unnecessary and stressful emergency visits and stays in our busy hospitals.

Political commitment

Ahead of elections for the Scottish Government and National Assembly for Wales in May 2016, we are asking political parties and candidates to commit to ensuring everyone who needs palliative care has access to it by the end of their next term.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, we have created a manifesto and charter for people with a terminal illness that we are asking all parties to sign up to.

Ageing population

This won’t solve all of the issues experienced by Rose, Bernard and the others whose stories are told in The way we die now – but it’s a start. And that’s what we need to make, as soon as possible; our population is ageing, so more people are dying each year, bringing new pressures on services.

Doing nothing is not acceptable.