LIBERAL Democrat MPs have urged leader Nick Clegg to include a commitment to free social care for those close to dying in the party’s General Election manifesto.
The MPs argue that the move is needed to ensure that more people have the opportunity to die in the place of their choosing.
In a letter to Mr Clegg, the MPs say the move could also save the NHS as much as £345 million by freeing up beds in hospitals.
Bradford East MP David Ward was among 14 Liberal Democrat MPs to sign the letter to Mr Clegg asking for an election pledge on the issue.
He said: “Dying affects us all and when the time comes, people at the end of their lives and their loved ones want security, not to have to spend what precious little time they have left messing around with complicated financial arrangements and spending dwindling savings.
“At the moment thousands of people with a terminal illness are being left to die in hospital beds against their wishes.
“There is an urgent need to address this especially when you consider the current unnecessary strain on hospital beds.”
“The number of people diagnosed with cancer is set to double in the next twenty years and so there will likely be a surge in the number of people who wish to die at home but are forced to die in an expensive hospital bed. It’s clearly an urgent issue and it’s something that the Government needs to implement now.”
A recent report by Macmillan found that while there is a package of health and social care funded by the NHS that can help people at the end of their lives in many areas the system is not working well.
People with less than £23,250 are “likely” to receive free social care, the report said, but the means-testing involved can be lengthy at a time when patients need a quick decision so they can leave hospital.
It said that those with savings find it hard to access the money when they are struggling with a debilitating condition.
The charity estimates that around 182,000 people died in hospital in 2012 who would have preferred to die at home with the average hospital stay ending in death being 13 days.