30 January 2015
Cancer charity warns the number of people dying in hospital is creating ‘unnecessary pressure’ on NHS
People with terminal cancer who don’t receive any kind of health or social care at home in their last few months of life are more than twice as likely to die in hospital than at home, according to new analysis from Macmillan Cancer Support released today (Friday).[i]
This is despite most people with cancer wanting to die at home.
The findings come as the charity urges all political parties to commit to including free social care for people in England at the end of life in their general election manifestos. The call follows a month of intense national debate on the pressures facing an overstretched NHS.
A previous Macmillan survey shows that while three in four people living with cancer would prefer to die at home[ii], only 30 per cent overall are currently able to do so.[iii]
Today’s analysis of the Office for National Statistic’s 2013 National Survey of Bereaved People (VOICES) in England shows that one in seven (17 per cent) with terminal cancer do not receive any care at home. Of those, only 7 per cent died at home, while 75 per cent died in hospital. [iv]
But of those who received at least one type of care service at home, a much larger proportion of people (44 per cent) died at home and only 29 per cent died in hospital.
A 2014 report[v] by Macmillan estimated that £137million was spent delivering hospital care to 36,400 cancer patients who died in hospital in 2012, despite saying that they wanted to die at home.
The charity today warns that the number of people with terminal cancer who die in hospital but want to die at home is placing an unnecessary strain on an under-pressure NHS.
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support says:
“We are confronted here with a bleak picture of people with cancer who can’t die at home when they want to. The analysis suggests that because many people don’t have social care at home, they ultimately don’t get to choose where they die.
“This lack of support for people with cancer can create an intolerable stress on family and friends at what is already a distressing time. And this too often results in dying people ending up in hospital against their wishes. Having help at home, even with tasks such as washing and getting dressed, could make a vital difference.
“Macmillan Cancer Support is calling on all political parties to include free social care for people at the end of life in their General Election manifestos.”
Colette Jelfs, 35, from the West Midlands, lost her husband to adrenal cancer in 2012. She says:
”In the April, Andy was diagnosed and treatment began, but by July he was admitted to hospital and he was terminal. They told him he could stay in hospital to die, move to a hospice miles away, or come home.
“Andy wanted to be at home with me and the children, but we’d had no support from carers up to then and I just didn’t see how I would cope emotionally or physically. No one was explaining how they’d make it possible. He died four days later in hospital.”
Macmillan Cancer Support is calling for all political parties to commit to improving cancer care ahead of the general election in its ‘Time to Choose’ campaign. The public can join the campaign online at www.timetochoose.org.uk.
For further information, please contact:
Patrick Pringle, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 840 4891 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
i Further analysis of Office for National Statistic’s 2013 National Survey of Bereaved People (VOICES) http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/business-transparency/freedom-of-information/what-can-i-request/published-ad-hoc-data/health/january-2015/index.html
ii Statistic taken from Macmillan February 2010 online survey of 1,019 UK adults living with cancer. Seventy-three percent of people with cancer said they would prefer to die at home if all their concerns about dying at home (such as access to pain relief, round the clock care, and support for their family and carers) were addressed.
iii Office for National Statistics. Mortality statistics: Deaths registered in England and Wales in 2013.
iv Further analysis of Office for National Statistic’s 2013 National Survey of Bereaved People (VOICES)
v Macmillan Cancer Support, 2014, Can we live with how we are dying? http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Campaigns/Endoflife/EndofLifereport-June2014.pdf
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk