People with a terminal illness from deprived areas are not getting the care they need

by Caroline Weston
Policy and Public Affairs Manager, England

Caroline Weston, Policy and Public Affairs Manager

People living with a terminal illness from more deprived areas are less likely to get the support they need and experience care they felt was of high quality, a new report has found.

In its recent report on Equity in the Provision of Palliative Care in the UK, the London School of Economics looked at the experiences of people with a terminal illness living in more deprived areas, compared with those in less deprived areas.

There has long been a link made between deprivation and the impact on health, and previous research has uncovered a connection between socio-economic conditions and access to palliative care.  This new research compared data from the most recent National Survey of Bereaved People in England, also known as the VOICES survey.

What the research tells us

While the research found that access to community-based services such as nursing, social workers, hospice at home and rapid response teams was not affected by living in more deprived areas, this was not the case for other services.

Bereaved carers in more deprived areas were less likely to feel that they had sufficient support for caring for their loved ones when dying at home. We are not sure why that is the case – it may be that people from less deprived areas can afford to pay for additional support if they felt they need it.

The analysis also showed that people from more deprived areas were less likely to die at home rather than in hospital. Again, we are not sure why this is the case, but it is possible that the housing available in more deprived areas is less suitable for caring for people living with a terminal illness.

The report also revealed that people from deprived areas were less likely to rate their quality of care as ‘outstanding’ or ‘excellent’.  This was particularly the case when considering the quality of care received from GPs and in care homes.  In addition, people from the most deprived areas were also less likely to report that they were always treated with dignity by GPs, as well as district and community nurses.

We don’t think this is good enough and we want things to change. If you agree and would like to get involved, visit our campaigns page, where you can sign up to help Marie Curie campaign for better support for people living with a terminal illness, regardless of economic status.