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Improving end of life care for patients with cancer in deprived areas ‘could save £4.6 million’

Patients with cancer who live in poorer areas receive ‘unacceptable variation’ in end of life care, research shows. 
End of life

Improving end of life care for patients with cancer who live in poorer areas could save the NHS 4.6 million a year, according to research.

Research by City, University of London and the Economic and Social Research Institute shows that people with bowel, breast, prostate and lung cancers living in the most deprived parts of England are more likely to be admitted to hospital as emergencies in the last six months of their lives.

After data on 250,000 people from Englands National Cancer Registry were analysed it was found that cancer patients from the most deprived areas also spend longer in hospital after emergency admission.

Hospital care during the last six months of life for people with cancer living in the most

Improving end of life care for patients with cancer who live in poorer areas could save the NHS £4.6 million a year, according to research.

End of life
Picture: Alamy

Research by City, University of London and the Economic and Social Research Institute shows that people with bowel, breast, prostate and lung cancers living in the most deprived parts of England are more likely to be admitted to hospital as emergencies in the last six months of their lives.

After data on 250,000 people from England’s National Cancer Registry were analysed it was found that cancer patients from the most deprived areas also spend longer in hospital after emergency admission.

Hospital care during the last six months of life for people with cancer living in the most deprived areas of England costs £526 more per patient for breast cancer, £564 more per patient for prostate cancer and £456 more per patient for bowel cancer, according to the study, which was funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and published in Health Affairs journal.

Spiralling cost

Senior lecturer in health economics at City, University of London Mauro Laudicella, one of the authors of, called for more investment in the care of patients early in their cancer journeys so that the NHS can slow down the spiralling cost of care.

He said: ‘Managing the healthcare needs of patients from the most deprived areas more effectively could reduce disparities in costs through the use of planned, rather than emergency, care and a more effective use of palliative care.’

RCN professional lead for long-term conditions and end of life care Amanda Cheesley said: ‘People who live in disadvantaged areas don’t have access to the same services, such as specialist palliative care, that many people in more affluent areas do.

‘Sadly, many of these people may not have a good family or friends support network to rely on during treatment or at the end of their lives.

‘Unacceptable regional variation needs to be reduced and GP practices, along with commissioners, should ensure they target areas that need services. Partnerships between local trusts and primary care are also vital to make sure more services are available in the community.’


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