Care for dying is ‘disappointing’

Hospital ward image

Variation in standards of care for dying hospital patients causes concerns

The quality of care for end of life patients in hospitals has been labelled as “deeply concerning” by doctors who recently carried out a standard of care review.

The audit of English hospitals revealed that only a fifth of hospitals provided end of life care seven days a week, despite this being a key recommendation ten years ago. The survey also showed that mandatory training in this field was required by trusts for only 19% of doctors and 28% of nurses.

The review looked at 6,500 people who had died last year, across 149 hospitals.

Disappointing results

The findings also revealed that just 45% of patients had been assessed to see if they needed artificial nutrition and 59% for hydration, whilst getting medication for key symptoms – such as pain and vomiting – varied from 63% to 81%. Nearly half of trust boards had also not discussed care of the dying in the previous year or conducted a formal audit – despite recommendations this be carried out annually.

Dr Kevin Stewart, who led the review, told BBC News “Although some aspects of care are good, I am deeply concerned that some hospitals are falling short of the excellent care that should be provided to both dying people and those important to them. It is disappointing that hospitals don’t seem to recognise this as an important issue, not just for those experiencing this in their own lives, but the wider public.”