Everyone deserves care that works for them and their families at the end of their lives. However, we know that end of life care is not meeting the needs of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, and we are in danger of failing to reach increasing numbers unless urgent steps are taken.
Marie Curie works on its own and in partnership with a wide range of NHS, public and voluntary sector organisations to tackle many of the challenges highlighted in today's report. We want everyone, wherever they live to be able to have a 'good death', provided with the care they want and need, with support available for them and their families.
Better identification of people who are in the last days and weeks of life, increased provision of community-based services and greater integration of hospital and community-based services are essential to help reduce the pressures on the NHS and increase choices and services for people at the end of life.
I feel that the UK is at a crossroads in much the same way that the US was several decades ago. High profile court cases surrounding patient rights at the end of life catalyzed a set of changes, which led to America's current system of aggressive treatments at all costs regardless of futility or clinical common sense.
The big innovation in the 19th and 20th century was the acknowledgement that health is a systemic issue. If people do not seek medical advice for small problems due to economic reasons, these small problems can become big problems and cause further poverty. This realisation led, for example, to the establishment of the NHS in 1948.
Our beloved 14 year old cocker spaniel Sammy who has lived for the past six months with senile dementia, blindness, a lack of bowel control and use of his legs, was put to sleep yesterday. With our dog we were allowed to choose when to end his life so that he could die with dignity and achieve a 'good death'. We were not allowed that option with my father.