End of life social care should be free - MPs

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The Health Select Committee has called for social care at the end of life to be made free to avoid people dying in hospital.

The report from the Health Select Committee also called for bereavement support to be made available for families and for it to be included as part of end of life care.

In addition long-term funding for the hospice sector and making it easier for people to die at home was called for in the report End of Life Care.

Dr Fran Woodard, director for England and policy & research at Macmillan Cancer Support said: "The message from the Health Select Committee is absolutely clear: free social care is a vital measure that can enable people to have choice over where they die.

"We know that the majority of people with cancer would prefer to die at home, but many are currently unable to do so - this unacceptable situation needs to urgently change."

"Introducing free social care at the end of life will do much to prevent unwanted and often unnecessary hospital admissions, and consequently will ease the strain on already oversubscribed and expensive hospital beds."

Jim Boyd, corporate affairs director at Partnership said: "While we agree that no one should die in hospital for want of a ‘social care package of support', this is likely to be something that is very hard to monitor and manage.

"Would this be a case of people receiving a terminal diagnosis and then the state picking up the costs or would it be retroactive? How would this be monitored - especially at a time when the entire social care structure is being changed?

"Overall, this is unlikely to have a significant impact on the care funding market as people who go into a care home stay for an average of two years - with self-funders remaining for around 3.5 years - and under this scheme is it only likely that their final few weeks could be funded."

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