The pilot project will explore how social investment can lead to the improvement of services for end of life care and enable patient choice, ensuring that the right treatment and support is delivered at the right time, in the right place.
It is thought that social investment in end of life care will provide the funding needed to help the NHS increase capacity for palliative care services, giving health providers the opportunity to help people to be cared for in the community and therefore freeing up beds and saving the NHS money.
Andrew Whitehead, director of finance at Marie Curie Cancer Care, hopes that the pilot will form the basis for a new integrated model of end of life care:
“This is the first social investment project for end of life care in the UK. If it works well, we want to use it as a blueprint model for services elsewhere. By March 2014, we aim to have a new integrated model for end of life care and social investment alternatives for funding, with a payment by results model.
“We have an ageing population and expect the number of people dying will increase. While it’s cheaper for people to be cared for in the community, and it’s what they want, it’s challenging for commissioners to find the money needed to develop new services that are community based. Social funding offers a way of funding that change.”
Marie Curie states that by investing in community palliative care, more people would be able to die in the place of their choice. And according to the Dying Matters coalition, most people (63%) would prefer to die at home; however, only 21% across England and Wales actually do so.
Britain’s rapidly ageing population in combination with an increase in the number of people with multiple long-term conditions, means that by 2030, the number of deaths each year will outnumber the number of births, rising by 17% to 590,000.
NHS spending on end of life care is also expected to increase from £20 billion to £25 billion by 2030.
Jon Dicken, chief officer operations at Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said:
“We are committed to giving our patients a choice about the end of life care support they receive and to delivering high quality services for them.
“We are very pleased to be working with Marie Curie Cancer Care on the Social Investment in End of Life Care Initiative, so that more people can be cared for in the place of their choice.”