• the NHS Long-Term Plan

    Around 500,000 people die in England and Wales every year and half of those deaths occur in hospitals. The palliative care workforce works extremely hard to provide good care for people nearing the end of their life. We owe a debt of gratitude to our hospices, palliative care staff in hospitals and Macmillan and Marie Curie nurses.

    We must ensure that end of life care is fit for purpose in all settings. However, too many people approaching the end of their lives are forced to spend long periods in hospital instead of receiving care in the community. Marie Curie has raised concerns that a lack of investment in community care and the Government’s failure to bring forward a sustainable plan for social care has resulted in more old and vulnerable people being admitted to hospital.

    The NHS Long-Term Plan contains welcome ambitions to improve end of life care, reduce avoidable emergency admissions, and support people to die in a place they have chosen. While the aspirations in the plan are welcome, I remain concerned that our health service will continue to be held back by cuts and chronic staff shortages.

    Almost nine years of austerity has pushed our NHS and social care system to the brink and I believe it is patients who are paying the price. Local authority budgets have been cut by 49.1% since 2010, resulting in £7 billion being lost from adult social care, and a further £1.3 billion will be cut in 2019-20. The Local Government Association is now warning of a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025.

    Ministers have repeatedly delayed publishing their green paper on social care and they have scrapped plans for a cap on lifetime care costs. Meanwhile, 400,000 fewer older people are receiving publicly funded care compared to 2010 and 1.4 million older people now have unmet care needs.

    I support good quality, free end of life care so that every person nearing the end of life can feel supported and safe in the knowledge that they will receive the best care.