Skip to content

New research into end of life care finds death is less well managed than it could be

5th November 2009

A report has been published today which looked into the care patients received in the last days of their lives. ‘Caring to the End?’ A review of the care of patients who died in hospital within four days of admission by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (2009) highlights that almost a third of patients did not receive good quality end of care.

The authors of the report draw a comparison between the usual death a century ago and what happens now and found that: “Modern medicine has been hugely successful in blocking one after another of the too early routes of exit but, perhaps partly as a consequence of being able to postpone the inevitable so successfully in so many instances, a timely death remains difficult to discuss and therefore perhaps less well managed than it might be.”

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“We are heartened that many people (68.7%) were considered to have had good quality care at the end of their lives. We are, however, concerned about the patients who did not. What we need to see is consistent access and quality in end of life care to prevent anyone from having to suffer an avoidable bad death. There is clearly a need for improvement in end of life training, practice and access.

“We are also concerned by the lack of conversation the medical team are reported to have had with their patients. For patients to have choice and control at the end of life they need to be at the center of their health care decisions.”


About Dignity in Dying:

– Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.

– Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.

– Opinion polls consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population supports a change in the law on assisted dying.

Media Contacts:
For all media enquiries, please contact Jo Cartwright on 020 7479 7737 / 07725433025 or at