Patients in the UK receive the world’s best end-of-life care, a new study has found.
A major study into the quality of palliative care across 80 countries concluded that the service provided by the NHS and hospices was “second to none”.
The UK earned its top ranking due to a combination of the integration of end-of-life treatment into the NHS, its strong hospice movement, and the quality of care on offer.
Authors also praised the Dying Matters Coalition, established by the National Council for Palliative Care, which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement.
Charities welcomed the positive findings, but stressed that not all patients in the UK receive the level of care they need.
To make their findings, researchers assessed hospital and hospice environments, the number of staff and their skills, and the affordability and quality of care across 80 countries.
Palliative care in Australia was regarded as the second best, followed by that offered in New Zealand, according to the 2015 Quality of Death Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Ireland, Belgium, Taiwan, Germany, Netherlands, US, France also placed in the study’s top ten.
Researchers found that fewer than half of the countries assessed provided good palliative care, with nations including Iraq, Bangladesh, China, the Dominican Republic, Iran and Guatemala performing most poorly.
However, economically developed nations were not alone in receiving praise, with Mongolia being recongised for investing in hospice facilities, while efforts to improve pain control in Uganda were also taken into consideration.
The report’s authors expressed particular concern about low scores for India and China, both with large populations, which ranked 67th and 71st respectively.
Addressing China, the report read: “the impact of the one-child policy, often leaving individuals caring for two parents and four grandparents, will lead to even more demand for outside resources to provide support”.
“One in five people who die in the UK are not getting the care they need. This quite simply is not good enough.
Despite the UK’s outstanding ranking, Simon Jones, director of policy and public affairs at terminal care charity Marie Curie, said there should be no “business as usual approach” in response to the report.
"While we recognise the great work that makes the UK a world leader in palliative care, we know from our own research that each year around 110,000 people are missing out on care that they urgently need.
"If there is a 'business as usual' approach following this report, then we will only see more cases of vulnerable people failing to get the care they need."
The best places in the world to die:
- New Zealand
Annie Pannelay, author of the new report, said: "The UK is an acknowledged leader in palliative care.
"But there is more that the UK could do to stay at the forefront of palliative care standards, such as ironing out occasional problems with communication or symptom control."
Claire Henry, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care, said: "At its best how the UK cares for people who are dying is absolutely world-class with hospice care leading the way, but there can be no room for complacency, especially as the demand for palliative care is increasing."
Additional reporting by PAReuse content