Report: UK remains world’s best at end-of-life care

The UK is the world leader in end-of-life care, according to a wide-ranging study of 80 countries.

The Quality of Death Index, by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), scored the UK 93.9 out of 100 ahead of Australia with 91.6 and New Zealand, ranked third with 87.6.

Researchers interviewed over 120 palliative care experts from around the world, and they assessed a range of criteria, including staffing levels and affordability and quality of care.

Assisted suicide

The report comes as last month MPs voted against a Bill to legalise assisted suicide by an overwhelming majority.

During the lengthy debate, MPs said there is no need for assisted suicide because there is access to good quality palliative care in the UK.

Rob Marris’ Private Member’s Bill was defeated by 330 votes to 118.

Ageing population

The Quality of Death Index only gave above average scores for 34 countries, and these account for just 15 per cent of the total adult population represented in the study.

It also said the issue of providing good quality end-of-life care is an increasingly important one as the population is ageing.

Despite the UK coming top, the report said there is still room for improvement and referred to an investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman earlier this year.

Challenge

“The fact that the UK, an acknowledged leader in palliative care, is still not providing adequate services for every citizen underlines the challenge facing all countries”, the report added.

Claire Henry, Chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care, said: “At its best how the UK cares for people who are dying is absolutely world class with hospice care leading the way, but there can be no room for complacency, especially as the demand for palliative care is increasing.”

The UK was also ranked the best in 2010, when this report was last produced.