Yesterday the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has published a report, Dying without Dignity based on complaints investigated by the Ombudsman. The report concludes that thousands of dying patients are being let down by poor end-of-life care provision in England.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Compassion in Dying, said:

“Compassion in Dying welcomes the Dying without Dignity report and recognises the need to improve the experience of care in the last year and months of life for many people. In addition to the key themes identified in the report, we also believe that the importance of engaging patients themselves in planning for their future treatment and care cannot be overlooked.

“There is growing evidence that discussing and meeting an individual’s preferences at the end of life leads to what they and their relatives consider a ‘good death’*. This evidence supports the report’s call for better care planning, however we believe that further work needs to be done to make patients aware of their legal rights to make decisions about their treatment, for example by making an Advance Decision to refuse treatment or a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for health and welfare.

“Evidence shows that planning for your future treatment and care in this way can reduce distress and anxiety and give peace of mind, yet for many, talking about what might happen at the end of life can be difficult. Feedback from callers to our Information Line repeatedly shows that making an Advance Decision or an LPA provides a way to initiate these difficult conversations with both family members and healthcare professionals. It also provides a sense of empowerment and peace of mind, enabling the patient to get in with living well in the time they have left. We also know from calls to our Information Line and our community outreach work that there is a real need for better information and support for people approaching the end of life to enable them to think through their choices and plan ahead. People need to be supported to do this as early as possible and not just in the last weeks of life.

“Following this report we hope that any new ambitions for end of life care will recognise the importance of advance care planning in delivering high quality, patient centred care.”

* Compassion in Dying, Divided in Dying, July 2013

View report here.

***ENDS***

Compassion in Dying

For media enquiries on the My Life, My Decision project nationally, or Compassion in Dying please contact Compassion in Dying Press Officer Mickey Charouneau: michael.charouneau@compassionindying.org.uk / 020 7479 7732.

Compassion in Dying is a national charity (no. 1120203) that aims to support people at the end of life to have what they consider to be a good death by providing information and support around their legal rights and choices. We are a leading provider of free Advance Decisions in the UK and we also conduct and review research around patient rights and choices in end-of-life care.

Compassion in Dying is the sister organisation of Dignity in Dying and was set up to help people exercise their rights and choices under the current law. The charity does not campaign for a change in the law on assisted dying.

For more information on Compassion in Dying visit: www.compassionindying.org.uk.