We must do all we can to tackle health inequalities at the end of life

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, Leadership, and People & Places.

Sue Ryder and other hospice charities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are looking to tackle health inequalities experienced by people at the end of life.

Safia Akram has joined Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough and will be working closely with Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, East Anglia Children’s Hospice, NHS partners, local authorities, other voluntary organisations and representatives from a diverse range of communities to help make sure more people across the region can access end of life care.

“It is important that we make sure hospice care is supportive of the needs and wishes of anyone who may need them,” says Safia.

“Giving dignity to people at the end of life is vital, but for someone who might not have been given dignity and compassion throughout their life this can undo some of the wrongs they have experienced. And we only have one chance to get this right.

“Hospices are in the unique position of being there at the end of someone’s life and they can make sure everyone has the best quality of life at the end of their life.”

As part of her role, Safia is reaching out to connect with different communities across Cambridgeshire.

From this she aims to work with representatives from these communities to review end of life service provision together.

“We have large communities of Eastern European, African Caribbean, Indian, Asian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Chinese people living here in Cambridgeshire, but they are not accessing hospice services. We want to change that.

“We also have a number of refugees and asylum seekers living across the region and homeless people who are sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation that struggle to access healthcare, let alone end of life care.

“Cambridgeshire has pockets of urban and rural communities too and the increasing cost of living is resulting in many not being able to afford to travel to access healthcare appointments or services.

“There is a lot of talk about the choice between heating and eating, but for so many people on low incomes it is a choice between getting access to medical treatment too. With the cost of living crisis this will become an even more difficult situation.

“We have Gypsy, Roma and Irish and Scottish travellers in our region who we want to support in being able to access specialist end of life care.

“As the project progresses, we will look at the ways we can make it easier for people with learning disabilities and physical disabilities to access our care.

“We also want to look at the ways we can make sure hospices provide an accepting and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ people too.

“I have started meeting some groups and representatives from different communities in Cambridgeshire and I will be looking at working more closely with all minority groups in the near future, sharing learnings with staff and partners so we can all work together to reduce inequity.

“If you are part of any of these communities, have links to people in them or work to support them, I would love to hear from you.”

In the three months Safia has spent in her role at Sue Ryder she says she has found the biggest barrier to accessing end of life care is making sure people know about hospice care and the services available, both in the community and at specialist hospice settings.

“People from the different communities I have already made contact with are surprised to know hospices exist and they don’t know what they do. When I tell them about the care available to them they sometimes feel overwhelmed and feel like they are missing out.

“This has put me on a real mission to make as many people as possible know about hospices and what we do.”

Safia says she is really looking forward to making a difference to people through her role and ensuring that everyone has equal access.

“I am really excited to be working on such a positive piece of work which will not only achieve equity for all but will redistribute access to services rightly, reaching people who need them most. But there are lots of challenges on the way.

“This work is so needed and I am so pleased to be a part of it. Sue Ryder has recognised that things need to change and they are doing their bit to bring about this change so they can be there when it matters for all those who need their care and support – no matter who they are.”

Safia Akram is keen to make links with local communities in Cambridgeshire to better understand the challenges facing people at the end of life and work with the community to help remove the barriers they face. To contact her please call, text or WhatsApp 07583 020574 or email safia.akram@sueryder.org

For more information on Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice visit www.sueryder.org/thorpe


Pictured: Safia Akram at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice would like to hear from local communities to make sure more people can access end-of-life care


About Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice

  • Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is the only specialist palliative care inpatient unit in Peterborough.
  • We provide expert palliative care and support for people who are living with life-limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families.
  • Our multi-disciplinary team includes doctors, nurses, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, complementary therapy, bereavement counsellors, and psychological and spiritual support.
  • We also offer a variety of other services, including aHospice at Home service for people who prefer to receive palliative care at home, family and bereavement support, complementary therapies and spiritual care.
  • Our staff and volunteers provide people with the compassion and expert care they need, to help them live the best life they can.


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