July 18, 2008

Better End-of-Life Care Promised

PEOPLE nearing the end of their lives will be offered better care and given more choice over where they spend their final days, Ministers pledged yesterday.

Funding totalling Pounds 286m will enable more people to die at home instead of in hospital where 60 per cent of people in Yorkshire currently die. Doctors say a major culture shift is needed so people can discuss how they would like to spend their final months and enable care plans to be put in place to make their lives as comfortable as possible.

More support for carers, community nurses on call round the clock and development of specialist palliative care are included in the 10- year strategy aiming to sort out problems never before tackled by health services. Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "People coming to the end of their lives, and their loved ones, deserve high- quality, compassionate and dignified care, on their own terms. This strategy will help make that happen."

Sheffield-based cancer specialist David Levy, who this year co- chaired a review of end-of-life care in Yorkshire, said it was vital people were offered a real choice, which needed to be discussed not in their final weeks but if possible six months before. "The biggest difficulty is that we need a culture shift in society. People are uncomfortable talking about death but as doctors and nurses I think we should be telling people the truth."

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