Charity leaders call for new funding plan for end-of-life care

Leaders from a number of end-of-life charities have joined forces to demand a new funding model for palliative care from the next government to ensure the sector is able to keep up with demand.

The chief executives of Hospice UK, Marie Curie, National Bereavement Alliance, Sue Ryder, and Together for Short Lives have written to the leaders of political parties and warned that too many people are dying in avoidable pain, with their families “left stressed, exhausted and traumatised”.

The organisations estimate that about 32,000 more people could benefit from palliative care in 2029 compared to 2024.

Matthew Reed, chief executive Marie Curie, said: “Dying people do not have time to wait, the next government must prioritise fully funding end-of-life care.

“Too many people are dying in avoidable pain, frightened and without the dignity they deserve. Families are left stressed, exhausted and traumatised.

“Death and dying is inevitable but getting it wrong at the end isn’t. If the next government fails to address the chaotic approach to end- of-life care, that failure will affect us all.”

The letter calls on the next government “to recognise palliative and end of life care as a vital part of our health and social care systems” and urges party leaders to “commit in your plans for government to making the reforms necessary to ensure that everyone receives the best possible care and support at the end of life and through bereavement”.

“The imperative for making these changes is practical as well as moral,” the charities wrote.

“The demand for palliative and end-of-life care is rising fast as our adult population ages and more children, young people and adults live longer with multiple complex health conditions.”

As well as more funding, the letter also suggests the development of an end-of-life care delivery plan for every nation in the UK, as well as more personalised care for patients, more support for families and carers, and an end to inequalities.

Toby Porter, chief executive of Hospice UK, warned that the “next few years are critical for end-of-life care”.

“We know that many people do not get the palliative care they need at the end of their lives, and we know that our ageing population means demand for care will continue to grow over the next decades.

“Hospices are ready to meet this challenge, but they need a new funding model and support from the next government to ensure they can continue to provide their brilliant care for everyone who needs it, whenever they need it.”

Heidi Travis, chief executive of Sue Ryder, called for the Government and healthcare system to “act now”.

“Our research shows that the demand for specialist palliative care services is expected to rise by 55% over the next decade,” she added.

“The constant uncertainty of funding will continue to be a threat to service provision until a sustainable solution is reached.

“Everyone should have a good death, and access to palliative and end-of-life care is integral to this. The inconsistent provision across the UK continues to make this time more difficult for people at the end of life, when their focus should be spending time with people they love and making memories.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We want everyone to have access to the high-quality, personalised palliative care that can make all the difference at such a difficult time.

“That’s why we require all local NHS integrated care boards to commission palliative and end of life care services to meet their patients’ needs.

“The majority of palliative and end of life care is provided via GPs, hospitals, and community health services – however we recognise the incredibly valuable role the charity sector plays in providing hospice care and supporting loved ones.”