Demands to improve end of life care

Government statistics show Waltham Forest has highest rate of hospital deaths in the country

Dying Matters Coalition chief executive Claire Henry

Claire Henry, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters Coalition

Better hospice provision and community support is needed for people in Waltham Forest at the end of their lives, a national charity has warned.

The National Council for Palliative Care called for local health bosses to do more to help those with serious and terminal illnesses – and reduce the high rate of hospital deaths in the borough.

In Waltham Forest 66.8 percent of people die in hospital, rather than at home or in a hospice where most say they would rather end their lives.

This is the highest rate of hospital deaths in the country, according to Public Health England, with a national average of just under 50 percent.

Claire Henry, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care, as well as the Dying Matters Coalition, said: “Given the choice, just five per cent of people nationally say that they would want to die in hospital, which is why it’s so concerning that Waltham Forest has such a high proportion of deaths in hospital.

“This appears to be part of a wider issue for East London, with Newham, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham having the next highest rates of hospital deaths in the country and disproportionately few people dying at home or in a hospice.

“There are likely to be a variety of reasons behind this, including levels of hospice provision and the availability of community support, and we very much hope that understanding why this is happening and what can be done about it is a priority for clinical commissioning groups and other local partners.”

Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the organisation responsible for administering NHS services in the borough, says it is aware of the problem and is working to give people more choice at the end of their lives.

A spokesperson said: “Increasing choice around end of life care is a priority for NHS Waltham Forest CCG.

“Working with our health and social care partners, local people now have more choice and support so that they can choose to die at home, in a hospice, in a care home or in hospital.

“The latest statistics on where people in Waltham Forest die are from 2011 to 2013, so we cannot be sure of what has happened more recently. However, we know that one of the reasons it Waltham Forest has a higher rate than other parts of the country because our local hospital, Whipps Cross, has a palliative care ward that is designed to support people at the end of their lives.”

By James Cracknell

People in Waltham Forest who have had experiences with loved ones being cared for during the end of their lives are being asked to contact the CCG to share their experience and help shape services in the future. Visit www.walthamforestccg.nhs.uk/getinvolved