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Dignity in Dying comment on Dispatches: Secret NHS Diaries

Last night Dispatches reported on the end of life of three patients in NHS care; one in hospital, one in a nursing home, and one at home. The documentary, sadly but unsurprisingly, found that there is often a huge gap between what people want and what people experience at the end of their lives.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“Dignity in Dying campaigns for quality and choice in end-of-life care to be such that all people can have what they consider to be a good death, regardless of care setting or condition; this programme highlighted that we still have a long way to go.

“Dispatches demonstrated, and research also confirms, that the current lack of formal process for discussing end-of-life choices is failing dying patients. Dignity in Dying believes that good communication is crucial to good quality end-of-life care.

“The need for good communication does not end with the doctor and patient; the various care providers, both health and social care, must be better at coordinating services and communicating with loved ones about patients’ wishes if we are to bridge the gulf between patient’s wishes and their experience at the end-of-life.

“We must strive not only to ask patients what they want at the end of their lives, but also to deliver on those wishes.

“Once we are dying and medicine can no longer improve our health, what is needed is the best possible care, and the most appropriate setting for this is often not a hospital ward. 60% of people would prefer to die at home, yet only 18% actually do. Just 13% of people would choose to die in a hospital, yet almost 60% of people spend their final days in a hospital ward. However, as the Dispatches report demonstrated, patients dying at home and their carers must be given better support by health and social care professionals, and crucially, appropriate access to pain relief.

“Despite the UK being world leaders in end of life care, there is much yet to be done to ensure that we can all have what we consider to be a good death.?


Notes to editor:

About Dignity in Dying:
? Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
? Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
? The British Social Attitudes Survey 2010 found that 92% of non-religious and 71% of religious people support assisted dying. This relates to overall support of 82%.

Relevant research
? Research demonstrates that information and processes for discussing end-of-life are often lacking. Research by the NHS National End of Life Care Programme reported that while most health and social care staff have some involvement in end-of-life care, the majority have not received communications skills training beyond a very basic level. NHS National End of Life Care Programme (2010),
? 60% of people would prefer to die at home, yet only 18% actually do. Demos (2010) Dying for Change
? 13% of people would choose to die in a hospital, yet almost 60% of actually do. Healthcare for London (2007), A Framework for Action

Media Contacts:
For all Dignity in Dying media enquiries, please contact Jo Cartwright on 020 7479 7737 / 07725433025 or at