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Palliative and end of life care dashboard commissioned by NHS England

Palliative and end of life care dashboard commissioned by NHS England
By Beth Gault
30 April 2024

An all-age palliative and end of life care dashboard has been commissioned to help ICBs to understand the needs of their population and to address health disparities.

In the government’s response to the Health and Social Care Committee’s (HSCC) report on assisted dying, it said the dashboard would bring together relevant local data in the one place to help plan and track improvements of health disparities.

It comes after the report, published in February, called for ICBs to do more to ensure they are meeting the palliative needs of their population.

The response also said NHS England would be including the topic of assisted dying in its regular performance discussions with national and regional leads, and that it had already published statutory guidance and service specifications to support ICBs in their duty to commission palliative care services.

It said: ‘From April 2024, NHS England is including palliative and end-of-life care in the list of topics for its regular performance discussions between national and regional leads.

‘NHS England has commissioned the development of an all-age palliative and end of life care dashboard, which brings together relevant local data in one place. The dashboard helps commissioners understand the palliative and end-of-life care needs of those in their local population, enabling ICBs to put plans in place to address and track the improvement of health disparities.’

Petition prompts debate

Yesterday (29 April), MPs debated the topic of assisted dying in parliament, after a petition backed by broadcaster and Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen gained almost 210,000 signatures.

The journalist Dame Esther is terminally ill with lung cancer. She called on MPs to attend the debate when speaking to the BBC’s Today programme yesterday, saying that she had seen her husband, her mother and her dog die, with the latter being the death she ‘envied’.

‘Isn’t it typically British that we give the pets we love a pain-free, dignified, private death but we can’t offer it to the people we love,’ she said.

MPs shared their own experiences within the debate, including Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi, who said she had recently considered the issue when her mother was very ill.

‘We have been lucky that my mother has gotten better, although her life has changed greatly. In my personal view, if someone has a terminal diagnosis and is mentally sound, should they not have the choice to take themselves out of suffering?,’ she said.

Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley said his mother had the ‘benefit’ of a wrong diagnosis, which enabled her to stay out of hospital for the last six months of her life.

He also talked of a friend who received end-of-life care up until their death last week. He said: ‘The hour-by-hour reports from those sitting with her in the care home, which had a hospice end-of-life service, and from those in my family would make a lot of people think twice before charging down a route that could lead to an increase in the number of suicides in this country by three times.’

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Dyke said she had cared for her partner’s mother as she was dying of cancer. She said: ‘Having cared and watched this strong, independent and dignified woman fade away in considerable pain, unable to have the dignified death that she wanted, will forever haunt me.’

Labour MP Rachael Maskell added: ‘I am worried about the person who says, “I’m just getting in the way. My children will have a better future without me. Perhaps the savings I have put aside could be better spent by them than on me.”

‘It is not necessarily coercion, but the way that people feel in a society that changes the law. We have much to address, including the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of people in our country, and that must be our first consideration.’

In response to the petition, the government said that a change in the law would be ‘a matter for parliament to decide and an issue of conscience for individual parliamentarians rather than one for government policy’.

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