Is the UK ready for an ‘explosion’ of need for palliative care?

Commissioning Marie Curie services

The number of people living with more than one serious and life-threatening condition will increase by a million by 2025, according to new analysis by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).

This number is especially concerning because we know that, even now, many people with a serious condition that could lead to their death do not get the care and support they need. Research by the London School of Economics estimates that, each year, 110,000 people across the UK who would benefit from palliative care miss out on it. That’s one in five people who die not getting the care they need. 

Our work with the RCGP

As the RCGP analysis shows, GPs play a crucial role in supporting people with serious and terminal conditions. Marie Curie is working with the RCGP to improve the end of life care GPs provide to their patients. This involves improving the knowledge, skills and confidence GPs have to help their patients.

We’re also working on ways to support GPs in identifying more people for palliative care when they have a terminal condition other than terminal cancer, as referral rates for these people have traditionally been much lower.

The bigger picture

In 25 years, the number of people dying each year will have increased by 100,000 and people will be living with more complex needs and often multiple long-term conditions. Is the UK ready to meet these needs?

While there is on-going work across the UK to improve palliative and end of life care, more needs to be done to meet the needs of individuals now and in the future. That’s why Marie Curie has been asking people to help with our campaign and ask politicians to prioritise care and support for people who have a terminal illness.

We can also ask ourselves as individuals how we can support people who are affected by terminal illness and bereavement. This week, Allan Kellehear, a professor in palliative care, delivered a thought-provoking talk to Marie Curie staff about the need to develop compassionate communities around death and loss.

The take home message from this was that death and dying should be everybody’s business, as it affects us all. As the need for palliative and end of life care grows, this is something for us all to think about.