Pledge to help more people in Suffolk and north-east Essex die at home rather than in hospital
- Credit: ANDRIAN RAWLINSON
Health leaders have pledged to at least halve the number of people who die in hospital in Suffolk and north-east Essex by 2021.
The ambition was revealed during an event in Ipswich tonight that was looking at end-of-life care in Suffolk and how it can be improved.
Figures show in Ipswich and east Suffolk 1% of people say they want to die in hospital, but 40% will.
In his opening speech, Mark Millar, chief executive of St Elizabeth Hospice, which organised the conference, said: “We think what we are about to talk about and what our panel will lead a discussion on is one of the most important things we can be talking about because it’s going to happen to us all and we may not like the idea but the reality is we all will come to our end of life at some point.
“I didn’t realise when I was working in the NHS how poorly the NHS system, the wider social system and wider society treats people and their relatives as they approach the end of life.
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“If we ask people about their end-of-life wishes and where they want to be at the end of their life, the vast majority of people will say where we want to be is in the place we normally live. Then they will say if we can’t be there we would like to be at a hospice – very few people will say they want to be in a district general hospital.
“However, nearly half of us in this room will die in a district general hospital.
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“Now I and my colleagues at St Elizabeth Hospice simply believe that as a system and country and county we can do and we must do far better than that around delivering what people’s wishes are.”
Next month, St Elizabeth Hospice will launch a campaign called There’s No Place Like Home, aimed at helping more people who don’t want to or need to be in hospital spend their last days at home.
The charity has plans to expand its community nursing services to turn this into a reality, but it will have to find an extra £1 million a year to fund the initiative on top of the £10.5m it already has to generate annually.
Mr Millar said leaders of the Suffolk and North East Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), made up of NHS organisations and councils in that area, had agreed to make one of its ambitions to at least halve the number of people dying in hospital over the next three years.
Sitting on an expert panel during the event tonight, Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals and STP leader, said it was the first time in his career that he had seen a project like this take place.
Expressing his support for the campaign, Mr Hulme said: “Hospitals are awful, awful places, even the best is an awful place because you share a room with six people, you share a bathroom with six people, you get food when we decide to feed you and it’s hardly a spoiler alert to say the food isn’t great so why would anyone want to spend their last days in hospital?”
However, Mr Hulme said there would be some “trade offs” to receiving care at home rather than an NHS setting, and families would need to be made aware of the full impact of this decision.
He added: “We have birth plans down to the most detailed point – we need to think about that at the end of people’s lives.”
Dame Clare Marx, an orthopaedic surgeon at Ipswich Hospital; Sarah Godfrey, St Elizabeth Hospice’s community manager; and Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Marie Curie, were also on the panel.