Editorial

UK still refuses to address the scandal of people dying without dignity

Too many people die a painful or undignified death because there is insufficient funding to employ enough nurses and pay them properly. It’s a scandal that shows no sign of ending

Too many people die a painful or undignified death because there is insufficient funding to employ enough nurses and pay them properly. It’s a scandal that shows no sign of ending

Do you have sufficient time to provide high quality care to people who are in the final months, weeks or days of life? Do you think this year’s winter pressures on the NHS have had a negative impact on the quality of end of life care that people receive?

These were just two of the questions answered by more than 600 Nursing Standard readers in a survey we undertook in conjunction with the terminal illness charity Marie Curie.

You will probably not be surprised to learn that the answer to the first was a resounding ‘no’, and the second a decisive ‘yes’.

Deeply distressing

Two in three respondents said they did not have enough time to provide high quality end of life care.

Asked to identify the main barriers to such provision, they cited inadequate staffing levels as by far the biggest single reason that some dying people are not cared for appropriately.

Readers told us that this winter has been particularly tough, whether they were based in hospitals or the community. More than three quarters said services had been affected negatively to a great or a moderate extent by seasonal pressures.

Behind the statistics lie deeply distressing personal stories of people dying in pain or without dignity because we live in a country that repeatedly refuses to find sufficient money to employ enough nurses and pay them properly. This underfunding is the scandal that keeps on giving.


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