Needs of dying people ‘not a priority’ for many Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups

May 20, 2016

More than a third (34 per cent) of Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) do not consider the needs of dying people in their assessments of the health and care needs of their local populations, according to a new report which highlights that end of life care is being overlooked by many health and care leaders in England.

The report, published today by the charity Hospice UK, also shows that well over half (57 per cent) of HWBs do not include the needs of dying adults and children in their key strategies that inform local service planning, with no change since 2014.

In addition, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) do not have a strategy for addressing end of life care for adults in their area.

And more than seven in 10 (71 per cent) of CCGs do not have a strategy for supporting children and young people living with life-shortening conditions.

Half a million people in England will die this year but not all will have access to quality palliative and end of life care. There are an estimated 92,000 adults in England every year who require palliative care but are not able to get the support they need – almost one in six of all deaths.

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:

“Local health and care needs assessments and strategies are essential building blocks for shaping vital end of life care and support services for dying people. However, our research shows that too many HWBs and CCGs are overlooking the end of life care needs of people in their communities.

“End of life care needs to become a core priority at a local level. A string of national reports has highlighted persistent failings in end of life care and what needs to change. However, there is little prospect of progress without a radical shift in approach by local health and care decision-makers.

“We recognise that HWBs and CCGs face considerable challenges in delivering services, amidst financial constraints and competing priorities. As providers, funders and leaders of palliative and end of life care, hospices are in a strong position to help with these challenges and ready to share their expertise to expand and improve care for dying people.”

In light of the report’s findings, Hospice UK is calling for the following actions:

  • For Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care – launched last year by a coalition of 27 national health and care organisations – to form the basis of plans to develop and improve palliative and end of life care services locally.
  • For local health and care leaders to work more closely with hospices and other palliative care providers to better understand the needs in their communities, including using data from hospices on demographics and care provision.
  • For HWBs and CCGs to develop palliative and end of life care strategies in a more co-ordinated way, bringing together health and social care providers from different sectors, especially for services to support the increasingly complex care needs of our ageing population.

Download the full report and appendices.

Notes to editor

  • Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were sent by Hospice UK to each of the 152 HWBs and 209 CCGs in England in February 2016. Responses were received from 143 HWBs and 198 CCGs in February and March 2016. This marks a response rate of 94 per cent and 95 per cent respectively.
  • Health and Wellbeing Boards are statutory committees of each of the 152 upper-tier local authorities in England and were established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. They are designed to encourage health and social care leaders to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of their local communities, to integrate services better and match them more closely to the needs of local people, as well as helping to reduce health inequalities.
  • HWBs are required to carry out joint strategic needs assessments (JNSAs) to assess the health and care needs of people in their local communities. These assessments provide a foundation for the production of Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies (JHWSs) which form the basis of commissioning and service plans for health and social care in each local area.
  • Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice care and the only membership body for organisations providing hospice care. We support and champion the work of more than 200 of these organisations across the UK.
  • Hospices, and other organisations which provide hospice care, offer vital care for people with terminal or life-shortening conditions and also support their families and carers.
  • For further information about hospice care follow us on Twitter @hospiceukPA.
  • Get all the latest news from the hospice and palliative care sector, as well as patient stories, on ehospice UK at: www.ehospice.com/uk This service is managed by Hospice UK. You can also follow ehospice news on Twitter at @ehospicenews.

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