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Report prompts call for staff to be trained in end of life care

Too many people are dying without dignity in England, according to a report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
End of life care

Too many people are dying without dignity in the NHS because of poor communication with families, poor planning and poor pain management, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has found.

A report published today by the PHSO, which makes final decisions on complaints about the NHS in England, says end of life care could be improved for 335,000 people a year in England.

The report highlights tragic cases around end of life care which the Ombudsman service has investigated, including the case of a 74-year-old patient with cancer who was subjected to 14 unnecessary attempts to reinsert a drip, which resulted in him spending his last days in avoidable pain.

Another case investigated by the PHSO involved a mother who had to call an emergency doctor from another hospital to come and administer stronger pain relief to her 29-year-old son who was in a palliative care

Too many people are dying without dignity in the NHS because of poor communication with families, poor planning and poor pain management, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has found.

A report published today by the PHSO, which makes final decisions on complaints about the NHS in England, says end of life care could be improved for 335,000 people a year in England.

The report highlights tragic cases around end of life care which the Ombudsman service has investigated, including the case of a 74-year-old patient with cancer who was subjected to 14 unnecessary attempts to reinsert a drip, which resulted in him spending his last days in avoidable pain.

Another case investigated by the PHSO involved a mother who had to call an emergency doctor from another hospital to come and administer stronger pain relief to her 29-year-old son who was in a palliative care unit.

The report reveals major issues with communication, resulting in families losing the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones; poor planning leading to uncoordinated care; inadequate out-of-hours services; and poor pain management.

It also identifies problems with clinicians not recognising that people are dying, or responding to their needs, and delays in diagnosis and referrals for treatment.

The PHSO Julie Mellor said: ‘We are publishing this insight so the NHS can consider the lessons to help prevent similar cases from happening again.’

In response to the report, RCN general secretary Peter Carter said communication is key and all staff should be trained in end of life care.

He added: ‘There must be enough staff available in hospital or in the community to properly listen to the needs and concerns of dying people and their loved ones.’

Click here to read the Dying without Dignity report

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