Heart patients denied quality end of life care for too long

15 March 2015        

The Houses of Parliament

Heart patients have been denied the quality end of life care available to others for too long and health services 'must act now'.

MPs published a report today which recommends better end of life care for heart patients.

The report, published by the Parliamentary Health Select Committee, sets out that all people at the end of life should receive seven-day access to specialist end of life care and free social care.

We welcome the report and says that heart patients must receive the same standard of end of life care as other terminally ill patients.

Giving patients choice

The report, which looks at end of life care for terminally ill patients, highlighted evidence that we submitted, that very few people with heart failure currently receive specialist end of life care.

This means that many people with heart failure do not die in the place of their choice and do not receive the care that they choose at the end of their life.

The report recommends that health commissioners set out plans to ensure that people with heart conditions in particular receive this vital care.

The committee said that training should be provided for all health and social care staff who are likely to provide care to people at the end of life, including training in advanced communication skills.

Palliative care is more straightfoward for cancer sufferers

The committee also noted that GPs admit that introducing palliative care is fairly straightforward for people with cancer, but much more difficult for patients with other life-threatening illnesses.

People with heart failure can show signs of being at the end of life for over a year, whilst others can die suddenly without warning.

Mike Hobday, our Director of Policy, said: “Heart failure patients have been getting a raw deal at the end of life and these recommendations are well overdue.

“For too long heart patients have been denied the option to die in the comfort of their own home or choose their end of life care and support because the health system does not encourage conversation with heart patients about the end of life.

“Health services must now act to ensure that patients with heart conditions get the same access to specialist care as other terminally ill patients.”