Laura Sharman 12 September 2014

Dying people ‘neglected’ by Health and Wellbeing Boards warn charities

Health and Wellbeing Boards (HBWs) in England are ‘neglecting’ the needs of dying people in their key strategies, according to new research by two charities.

Help the Hospices and the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) found that only four in ten (43%) of HBWs considered the needs of people approaching the end of life in their Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies.

Nearly a quarter (24%) did not make any reference at all to dying people and their needs, and 26% only made an indirect reference to these people.

The charities warned that 92,000 people die each year without the support they need, so are calling on HWBs to ‘explicitly’ consider the needs of dying people in their strategies.

Robert Melnitschuk, policy and advocacy manager at Help the Hospices, said: ‘It is disappointing that the needs of people approaching the end of life, their families and carers are still being ignored by so many Health and Wellbeing Boards, which were established to improve services and outcomes for people locally.

‘Health and Wellbeing Boards need to respond to current high levels of unmet need for end of life care and also prepare for increasing demand for these services as our population ages rapidly.’

The charities are also calling for HWBs to use data produced by Public Health England on end of life care to inform their key strategies, work with hospice and palliative care providers to give patients a stronger voice in service design and delivery, and to become more transparent and accountable to local stakeholders.

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