As the global population ages the need for high quality, effective end-of-life care is increasing and ever more important. A study by the Economist Intelligence Unit has assessed the care provided in 80 countries across the globe, rich and poor and its report rates the provision of end-of-life care in the UK as the best with a score of 93.9 out of 100.
The study assessed a range of factors, including the cost of end-of-life care to patients; the quality of that care; the numbers and skills of staff involved; and the quality of hospital and hospice environments.
The combination of the care available on the NHS and the UK's strong local hospices helped put it at the top of the chart. The UK scored the maximum both for the quality of care and the fact it is free at the point of need.
Commenting on the report, Andrew Clayton of Penningtons Manches' clinical negligence team, explains: "This is a welcome and deserved accolade that reflects the commitment and dedication of all those delivering end-of-life care in the UK. The UK has been keeping pace with the demands of an ageing population and is providing the highest quality care for those at the end of life.
"But the study does identify some room for improvement. For example, in strengthening the timely availability of effective symptom control, including pain relief, and ensuring effective communication between different providers and patients. Also, the report did not focus on local coverage, which can be variable in different parts of the country. Other studies in recent years have identified that the UK is lagging its counterparts in the effective diagnosis and treatment of cancers, which increases demand for palliative care. Awareness of the need for earlier diagnosis and treatment is increasing, but more needs to be done."