Lord Howard wants fewer terminally ill people dying in hospital

Michael Howard, Lord Howard Michael Howard, before his peerage, was Conservative leader during the 2005 general election

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A hospital ward should be the last resort at the end of someone's life - not the first one, according to the Conservative Peer and former party leader Lord Howard.

Currently, around 250,000 people each year die in hospital.

Lord Howard, who represented the Kent constituency of Folkestone and Hythe for 27 years, is now leading the Help for Hospices campaign to try to change that.

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We think that it would be much better if it could be arranged for people who want to die at home or in a hospice to do so”

End Quote Lord Howard

Help the Hospices wants to work with the NHS to help terminally ill people who want to leave the wards and aims to reduce the number by a fifth - around 50,000 people.

Lord Howard believes it would not only lead to better targeted care, but would save the NHS £80m.

He said his father was able to die at home and was cared for by nuns. He said their care and devotion has stayed with him and inspired him to take part in this campaign.

Lord Howard said: "For very many of the people who die in hospital at the moment there's no clinical need for them to be there.

"They need palliative care and hospitals, with the best will in the world, are there to cure and mend and they're not really great at palliative care - so we think that it would be much better if it could be arranged for people who want to die at home or in a hospice to do so".

Nurse with elderly patient Lord Howard says there is no need for many of those who die in hospital to be there

While there is support for the move - with figures suggesting that more than 80% of the public would prefer to die at home or in a hospice - carers say it must be about choice not cost-cutting.

Sandra Springett from Age UK said: "If they wish to die at home or in a hospice then that should be able to happen for them but we do need the right resources in the community to the hospices"

But she warned: "If this is a case of saving the NHS a lot of money then that money needs to be re-directed so those people get the support they need."

Many elderly people also back the right to choose - one told me that "when you get sent to a hospice you know why you're going there".

Lord Howard said he'd like to spend his final days in the "familiar surroundings" of his home in Kent. He hopes this campaign means that many others will also have a choice when it comes to the end of their life.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    To be cared for at home is my wish ,with all my family to witness my celebration of my death knowing they to can pray for a happy death, my wife betty and i are fast approaching this joyious event in our lives soon being reborn is impossible to explain unless you have experienced....but our last wishes we do not want sad faces but music

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It does also raise the question of how many directorships Lord Howard has in the private health/care industry?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    As a District Nurse, I would respectfully like to say that Lord Howard would do well to check his facts prior to making such statements. Many Hospices, do not have an 'at home' service and the bulk of palliative care in the community is done by the District Nursing Service. I am saddened that this little known or recognised service is so maligned and overlooked. Facts would be appreciated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Lord Howard makes a valid point. The alien and impersonal environment of a hospital ward must surely be distressing to anyone in her or his last days. The financial saving of "home death" is a relatively tiny amount and a distraction from his main point. Unfortunately, when an aged parent os of no further use her or his family is all too keen to dump her or him anywhere out of their sight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    'carers say it must be about choice not cost-cutting.'
    'Sandra Springett from Age UK - If this is a case of saving the NHS a lot of money'

    Why so negative? Why is it always down to money and not compassion? These are quotes from those that 'care' - well don't let them near me when my time comes, I want people who think of me first and not the cost implications! Lord Howard is right.



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