Help the Hospices responds to National Care of the Dying Audit for Hospitals

May 15, 2014

A new National Care of the Dying Audit for Hospitals is launched today led by the Royal College of Physicians, in collaboration with Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool and funded by Marie Curie Cancer Care and Public Health England.

Commenting on the audit’s findings, Heather Richardson, National Clinical Lead at the national hospice charity Help the Hospices, said:

"This audit highlights some unacceptable levels in the standard of care for people dying in hospitals in England, which are alarming. In a civilised, modern society everyone should be able to expect high quality care at the end of their life.

"Some professionals working in hospitals clearly lack confidence and competence to care well for people who are approaching the end of their life and their families. Poor communication with patients and their families is notable.

"There is a real opportunity here for staff from hospices and hospitals to work together more closely and take action to tackle this. Hospices have expertise in identifying when people are coming to the end of life, in having difficult conversations with patients who are dying and their families and in symptom control.

"Many have already established strong relationships with hospitals to share such knowledge. The well evaluated initiative Quality End of Life Care for All (QELCA) education programme is an example of such partnerships. This has led to significant improvements by hospital nurses working with terminally ill people and their families.

"We recommend that hospitals invest in education and training for their staff.

"Through their long standing educational role, local hospices around the country have a great deal to offer hospitals that recognise the importance of equipping their staff with the necessary knowledge, skills and ongoing support."

"Hospices also have an important role to play in helping reduce unnecessary hospital admissions for terminally ill people, especially for those who would be better supported by hospice staff in their own homes. Many hospices are already actively engaged in dedicated programmes with their local hospitals to address this."

Notes to Editor

  • Help the Hospices is the UK’s leading charity for hospice care which supports and champions the work of 219 hospices across the UK.
  • Hospices provide vital care for people with terminal illnesses and life-limiting conditions and they also support their families.
  • Help the Hospices is a member of the Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People (LACDP) – a partnership of organisations brought together to produce a system-wide response to address the issues raised by the Neuberger Review.
  • Quality End of Life Care for All (QELCA) is an education programme, designed originally by St Christopher’s Hospice in London, to be delivered by hospices for nurses working in other healthcare settings. It was set up in direct response to a request from a local acute hospital for bespoke training for the ward managers of a medical and elderly care unit due to concerns about inadequate skills in end of life care. The programme’s aim is to empower generalist nurses to return to practice equipped to make a sustainable difference to the experience of patients dying in hospitals and their relatives/carers. For more information about QELCA visit

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