Needs of the dying and their families ‘are being ignored’

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The needs of dying people and their families are being “ignored” by many local health bodies, charities warned.

Just over four in 10 Health and Wellbeing Boards in England consider the needs of people nearing the end of their lives, according to Help the Hospices and the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC).

The bodies reviewed strategy documents of the 152 Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) in England to assess whether they considered the needs of people approaching the end of life.

They found that 24 per cent did not make any reference at all to people approaching the end of life or their care needs in their strategies. And 26 per cent only made an “indirect reference” to the needs of dying people, they said.

Seven per cent of boards had not published their strategies or had not made them publicly available. The organisations expressed concerns about their findings, saying around 92,000 people die each year without support they need.

This number could increase rapidly, they added.

Help for Hospices called on the boards, made up regionally of health and social care leaders, to include the needs of dying people in their strategy documents.

“It is disappointing needs of people near the end of life, their families and carers are ignored by so many Health and Wellbeing Boards,” said Robert Melnitschuk, of Help the Hospices.