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Palliative care still needs improving despite number one status

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The UK's status as number one for palliative care must be viewed in context, say leading palliative care figures.

The 2015 Quality of Death Index analysed palliative care services in 80 countries around the world. The UK came first due to its national policies on improving palliative care, the integration of palliative care into the NHS, strong hospice care and community engagement on the issue.

However, Simon Jones, the director of policy and public affairs at Marie Curie, stated that 'this report must be viewed in context.'

'One in five people who die in the UK are not getting the care they need. This quite simply is not good enough. This quite simply is not good enough. With more people dying each year, the demand for compassionate palliative care will only increase. Our collective ambition must be to ensure better access to palliative care for everyone who needs it. While there is no magic wand, we can start by ensuring that frontline health and social care professionals, local NHS leaders, policy makers and the public know what palliative care can achieve, who it can benefit, and how access to it can be improved.'

Dr Ros Tyler MBE, national director for hospice care at Hospice UK, said that they were delighted that the UK has come first 'however, it is clear, as highlighted in the health ombudsman report published earlier this year, there are still too many failings in end of life care in other settings.'

Overall, rich countries included in the analysis such as Australia and New Zealand (second and third place respectively) performed better than developing countries but some developing countries have made great progress. For example Panama at number 31 is beginning to build palliative care into its primary care services while Monogolio at number 28 has seen a rapid growth in hospice facilites and teaching programmes.

Claire Henry, the chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care, said that the UK was 'rightly viewed as a leader of palliative care'. But she agreed with Mr Jones and Ms Tyler acknowledging that many people are still not receiving the palliative care they require.

'We only have one chance to get care right for people who are dying, which is why we very much hope that the government continues to look to improve end of life care for everyone who needs it and invests in caring for dying people in the forthcoming spending review, including by implementing the recommendations contained in the recent review of choice at the end of life,' she said.

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