To ask the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to the findings of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's report, Dying without dignity, published on 20 May 2015, what steps NHS England is taking to ensure (a) dying patients receive information on that prognosis in a sensitive manner and (b) communication between health professionals on the terminal prognosis of a patient is conducted in a timely manner.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to the findings of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's report, Dying Without Dignity, published on 20 May 2015, if he will make it his policy to ensure that all health professionals involved in the care of terminally ill patients undergo specialist training to ensure such patients and their families are communicated with in a sensitive, appropriate and timely manner; and if he will make a statement.
The cases highlighted in the Ombudsman’s report are deeply troubling. Everyone deserves good quality care, delivered with compassion, at the end of their lives.
In June 2014, the Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People, which included NHS England and the Department, published One Chance to Get it Right. This set out five priorities for the care of a dying person, the key principles that should underpin the care that all people at the end of life receive which the Ombudsman’s report endorsed as the right approach to achieving high quality, compassionate care for all dying people.
The priorities for care and the accompanying guidance for staff, care providers and commissioners, cover issues such as recognising dying, sensitive and timely communication, symptom control (including sedation), physical, psychological, social and spiritual support, care planning, nutrition and hydration and staff education and training. They also provide for a personalised approach aimed at delivering care in ways that meet individual needs and preferences.
Following One Chance to Get it Right, NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and other system partners have worked together to implement the priorities for care and taken forward specific actions to improve the way care is delivered and commissioned. Subsequently, in October 2014, NHS England set out in “Actions for End of Life Care 2014-16”, what it would do to improve end of life care.
NHS England is also working with key stakeholders on new ambitions for end of life care and this group now includes a representative from the Ombudsman. This will ensure that the lessons learned from the Ombudsman’s report are fed in to the National Health Service’s plans to improve end of life care.