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Wish to die at home “should be granted”

16 November 2010

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Many people who would like to die in the comfort of their homes are actually passing away in hospital, a report has claimed.

Think-tank Demos said 60% of the half a million people who die in Britain every year do so in hospitals, but only 8% would choose to die there.

The report Dying for Change found that instead, 60% would prefer to reach the end of their lives in the familiar surroundings of home with friends and family around them.

To allow half of people to die at, or near, their homes, £500 million a year – 2.5% of the NHS end-of-life care budget – would have to be invested in community services, the report concluded.

Charles Leadbeater, who co-authored the report, said: “It’s not just that we’re living longer – part of this means that people are dying over a longer period losing first their memory and then their physical capacities in stages.

“As things stand we spend very large sums on services, especially in hospitals and care homes, which do not allow people to die in the way they would want.”

The study found that the number of people who should be dying at home but instead die in hospital is around 200,000 a year.

In government plans published last month, it was stated that everyone should be given a “choice offer” with proper support in place to make sure they die where they want to.

They recognised there is a long way to go before such a move is brought in, with a review in 2013 to decide when the “choice offer” could be introduced.

Demos said the number of people dying would reach 590,000 a year in 2030, when the baby boomers reach the end of their lives. However, only one in 10 of them will die at home.

Copyright © Press Association 2010