Dear Chancellor George Osborne,
It was my mother's dearest wish to die at home and Marie's brother wanted to do the same. It wasn't easy, but we were lucky that we were able to make it happen. We strongly believe everyone with cancer at the end of life should be able to live and die in the place and manner of their choosing, in as little pain and with as much dignity as possible. But too often the choice just isn't available.
In fact, only 56% of people said they felt that their relative had died in a place of their choice in a recent National Survey of Bereaved People.
We were able to fulfil our loved ones' wishes, but I don't think either of us knew how difficult it was going to be to make it happen. Neither of us are professional carers and nobody told us how we should do things. It was just so stressful and so tiring. But our experiences are far from unique- it's not uncommon for bereaved carers to report that the planning and coordination of care at end of life was extremely poor. Families and friends should never feel alone and unsupported at such a difficult time.
In February, the independent review of choice in end of life care was published. It recognises the issues people are facing when approaching the end of their life and offers recommendations for how people can be given more choice and support in making these difficult decisions. We think people need to have choice and control over the things that are important to them. As carers, we strongly support these recommendations and believe if implemented they would have a hugely positive impact on people at the end of their life, their family and carers.
We are urgently calling on you to fully fund the review's recommendations to ensure people are given choices and have access to care that is focused around their needs. We want everyone to receive high quality, personalised end of life care. We know the challenge of delivering consistently good end of life care is growing. By 2035, around 550,000 people will die each year in England, compared to approximately 450,000 currently. So this is the time to get this right.
We know you recognise the importance of improving end of life care and committed to this in your manifesto. We want you to keep that promise and ensure that people who are nearing the end of their life are supported to die in the place and manner of their choosing.
Caring for someone at the end of their life is a privilege and making this time as comfortable as possible for someone is the most important thing you can do. It was so important to us to be able to care for our loved ones at home. We know for many others this doesn't happen and this urgently needs to change.
Nikki and Marie
No one should face cancer alone.
Macmillan Cancer Support is calling for better choice at the end of life for people affected by cancer. If you have had a similar experience and would like to sign Nikki and Marie's letter in support, click here