An overwhelming 86% of adults in the UK agree that people should have the right to high quality palliative care, no matter where they live, according to a new survey commissioned by the charity Marie Curie1.
Eighty-one per cent (81%) agree that people with a terminal illness should have the right to specialist support every day of the week. Currently, only 21% of hospital trusts in England are providing 9-5, seven days a week, face to face services2.
The findings of the new online Ipsos MORI survey (of adults aged 18+) are released ahead of the debate of the Access to Palliative Care Bill, which has its second reading in the House of Lords on Friday, 23rd October.
If introduced, the Access to Palliative Care Bill would cover the right of everyone to receive good care at end of life, no matter where they live. This includes placing a duty on all CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) in England to provide support to those with palliative care needs, especially access to pain and symptom control 'around the clock', 24/7 specialist consultant cover; and to improve education and training of staff, and research in the area.
Today's survey findings also reveal how strongly the general public agree about people with a terminal illness having the right to medication for pain control around the clock (87%) and their right to get support at home if that is where they want to be cared for (85%).
At the same time, only 14% of respondents agree that we can't expect the government to invest more in training front-line NHS and social care staff to care for them.
This week's private members' bill, introduced by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, comes hot on the heels of the Assisted Dying Bill, which was rejected by the House of Commons last month. During the recent debate, the need for improved access to high quality palliative and end of life care was a common thread across many of the speeches.
Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive of Marie Curie, said: "It is clear that the care and support that people with a terminal illness can expect as they approach the end of their life is something we as a nation feel passionately about. While the odds are stacked against private members' bills becoming law, improving access to high quality palliative care deserves parliamentary time and attention."
Each year in the UK 110,000 people miss out on the palliative care they need - that equates to around one in five deaths. Predominantly, the people who miss out are those with non-cancer diagnoses or those over the age of 853.
Dr Jane Collins added: "While the recent Economist report rated the UK as the world leader in palliative care, we can't hide from the truth that too many vulnerable people miss out on that excellent care. Limited availability of palliative care for people who are terminally ill is nothing to be proud of.