Palliative Care

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 5th June 2018.

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Photo of Sarah Champion Sarah Champion Labour, Rotherham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, by what means his Department collects information on the preferences for care for people at the end of life since the discontinuation of the National Survey of Bereaved People (VOICES) after the publication of 2015 data.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Since 2012 the National Survey of Bereaved People (VOICES) survey has provided valuable insight into the quality of care delivered to people in the last three months of their lives, highlighting variations in the quality of care delivered in different areas of the country and to different groups of patients. Following publication of the last set of survey results in June 2016, NHS England held a consultation on the future of the VOICES survey to seek views on the approach and relevance of the survey to ensure that it remained fit for purpose. Whilst the response showed that the VOICES survey remained a valuable tool, key amongst its findings were that the majority of respondents indicated that the VOICES survey would be more helpful if the sample size were made large enough to report at a local commissioner level.

Following this, work was undertaken to revise the survey and consider approaches to a larger sample size and then put in place arrangements to re-commission the VOICES survey. NHS England has been involved in discussions with the Office for National Statistics, which collects the death registration data used to identify survey recipients, about arrangements for access to the data for the new survey. Changes to the safeguarding arrangements on data-sharing, designed to ensure any concerns about care raised via the survey can be appropriately investigated, have resulted in delays to commencing the new VOICES survey. Work is ongoing to resolve this matter, and a timetable for the publication of the next survey cannot be provided at this time.

Finally, there are other means through which personalisation and choice at the end of life are assessed and monitored; for example, through the Care Quality Commission’s inspection regime, which now rates end of life care as a core service, and via the National Audit for Care at the End of Life, commissioned on behalf of NHS England by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership.

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