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End of life care is support for people who are approaching death. It helps them to live as well as possible until they die, and to die with dignity. It also includes support for their family or carers.

deathThe end of life care profiles show that the largest underlying cause of deaths, for which end of life care will be provided, is cancer. In 2017, there were 624 deaths due to cancer for which end of life care was provided [Chart - End of life care underlying cause of death - cancer].[1] This is followed by circulatory disease (including rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, and stroke), with 559 deaths [Chart - End of life care underlying cause of death - circulatory disease], and respiratory disease (including influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and other chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), 300 deaths [Chart - End of life care underlying cause of death - respiratory disease].

Over the last 10 years, the proportion of Gateshead people dying in hospital has been significantly higher than the England average. However, having narrowed the gap to England in recent years, Gateshead is now below the England average - 43.7% in Gateshead compared with 46.0% in England. In Gateshead this equates to 956 people, having been as high as 1,436 back in 2004 [Chart - End of life care place of death - hospital].[2]

Deaths by Place of DeathThe general trend in the proportion of hospital deaths is decreasing, and conversely, the trend in home deaths is increasing. In 2017, 956 Gateshead people or 43.7% died in hospital, 574 or 26.2% died at home, 660 or 30.2% died in a care home, hospice or another place.[2]

End of life care includes palliative care. If a person has an incurable illness, palliative care will make them as comfortable as possible by controlling pain and other distressing symptoms, while providing psychological, social and spiritual support for them, their family or carers. In 2010/11 there were 223 people registered with Gateshead GPs who required palliative care (0.1% of patients).[3]

Public Health England and the National Council for Palliative Care published a report into the workforce providing palliative care in September 2014. The key finding from the report is that the proportion of nurses working in palliative care aged over 50 continues to increase, potentially paving the way for a gap in palliative care nursing provision unless further work is undertaken to understand the reasons behind the aging workforce.[4] It should be noted that the report is based on survey data and the response rate was 47%.

[1] Underlying Cause of Death, 2017 (End of Life Care Profiles website)

[2] Place of Death, 2017 (End of Life Care Profiles website)

[3] Palliative Care Reported Prevalence, HSCIC, 2010/11 (HSCIC website)

[4] NCPC Specialist Palliative Care Workforce Survey, 2013 (National End Of Life Care Intelligence Network website)

Last modified on 6th August 2019

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