Research summary
8 Dec 2010

There is a shortage of information about the care people receive at the end of their lives. The Nuffield Trust has been attempting to address this shortfall by investigating the use and estimated costs of hospital and social care services for large groups of individuals at the end of their lives.

Summary

About half a million people in the UK die each year, and the quality of care they receive also affects a much larger number of relatives, carers and friends. Although the costs of this care are also high, there is a shortage of information about the care people receive at the end of life and major gaps in our understanding of what services are appropriate.

This publication outlines the findings from a Nuffield Trust study which investigated the use and estimated costs of hospital and social care services for large groups of individuals at the end of their lives, in three primary care trust (PCT)/local authority areas. We believe that this is the first time that such an estimate has been derived for large populations.

The techniques used in this analysis mark a significant step forward in information about end of life care

The techniques used in this analysis mark a significant step forward in terms of providing a better understanding of health and social care services used by people at the end of life. This type of analysis is also the first step to achieving better quality of care for the available resources.

However, the analysis is partial. The Nuffield Trust has therefore been commissioned by the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network to conduct a more detailed follow-up study. This will involve a wider range of local authorities, and an extended number of datasets. It will report in 2011.

This research forms part of the Nuffield Trust’s work on the commissioning of health care. It will be of interest to policy-makers, commissioners and managers within health and social care, as well as academics with an interest in this area.

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