3 July 2012
Half of people in England are still dying in hospital and not always receiving the health and social care support they need to allow them to die at home, according to new research released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
New stats support previous research by Macmillan Cancer Support which showed that with the right support 73% of people with cancer would prefer to die in their own home, yet only 27% currently do.
Worryingly the survey of 22,292 bereaved relatives revealed that cancer patients are not receiving the round the clock nursing care they need at home in the last few months of life. Nearly half (46%) of cancer patients received partial or no pain relief whatsoever  and one in three (32%) said that out of hours care was only fair or poor.
Furthermore 43% of people caring for cancer patients reported that they did not receive enough support from health and social care services during the last three months of their loved one’s life.
Gus Baldwin, Head of Public Affairs at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“This new research shows that the current system is not providing the vital support cancer patients in the last months of life and their families need, such as social care services and 24/7 nursing care.
“It is vital that the Government uses the opportunity of the forthcoming social care reforms to ensure that people are supported to die at home if they wish to do so. Scrapping the social care means-test for those in the final months of life, as recommended by the Independent Palliative Care Funding Review, would help more people to be discharged from hospital quickly and cared for at home.
“Providing all cancer patients at the end of life with 24/7 community nursing would ensure they have the support they need, at all times day and night, and prevent expensive and unnecessary hospital admissions.”
Macmillan Cancer Support is calling for the Social Care White Paper to support the principle of free social care for all patients who are on an end of life care register.
For further information, please contact:
Claire Keuls, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 4872 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
New research was published today by the ONS on behalf of DH. Office for National Statistics (on behalf of DH) (2012) National Bereavement Survey (VOICES) 2011
(accessed 3 July 2012). Questionnaires were sent out in November 2011 to adults who had registered a death 4-11 months earlier, the majority of respondents were relatives (96%).
Department of Health (July 2012) First national VOICES survey of bereaved people: key findings report http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/07/voices/ (accessed 3 July 2012)
1 For those who expressed a preference, the majority preferred to die at home (71 per cent), although the most commonly recorded place of death was a hospital (53 per cent). The survey also showed that 50% died in hospital and 35% of those dying in hospital said they did not have enough choice about where they died. Office for National Statistics (2012) National Bereavement Survey (VOICES) 2011
(accessed 3 July 2012)
2 Macmillan Feb 2010 online survey of 1,019 people living with cancer; Office for National Statistics. Mortality statistics (2010)
- (Accessed November 2011)
3 When asked about care at home in the last three months of life (Q6) ‘During the last three months of his/her life, while he/she was at home, how well was her pain relieved?’. 55% of respondents for people who died from cancer said completely, all or some of the time, 40% said partially, and 6% said not at all.
4 When asked about quality of care in the last three months and urgent care provided out of hours (Q11) ‘Overall, do you feel that the care he/she got when he/she needed care urgently in the evenings or weekends in the last three months of his/her life was: (Tick one only)…’ 29% of respondents for people who died from cancer said excellent, 39% good, and 32% said fair or poor.
5 When asked about care at home in the last three months of life (Q5) ‘Overall, do you feel that you and your family got as much help and support from health and social services as you needed when caring for him/her?’ – 57% of respondents for people who died from cancer said ‘yes, we got as much support as we wanted’, and 43% said they did not get support or they got some but not as much as they wanted (responses included: ‘Yes, we got some support but not as much as we wanted’, ‘No, although we tried to get more help’ and ‘No, but we did not ask for more help’).
6 Hughes-Hallett, et al (2011), The independent Palliative Care Funding Review
The review recommended that once a patient reaches the end of life stage, and is put on an end of life locality register, all health and social care should be funded by the state and free at the point of delivery.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. But you don’t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way.
We are the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment. The experts on the end of the phone. The advisers telling you which benefits you’re entitled to. The volunteers giving you a hand with the everyday things. The campaigners improving cancer care. The fundraisers who make it all possible.
You don’t have to face cancer alone. The Macmillan team is here to support you every step of the way. For more information visit www.macmillan.org.uk
or call 0808 808 00 00.