A new comprehensive study comparing 80 different countries reveals that the United Kingdom offers the best palliative care in the world.
A new comprehensive study examining the end-of-life treatment given to people in 80 different countries has declared a decisive victor. According to a report from the Telegraph, the United Kingdom offers the best palliative care in the developed world. The UK was followed by Australia and New Zealand for the countries with the top three palliative care programs.
Despite the top ranking, charities in Britain were quick to point out that not everybody in the country gets the gold standard of end-of-life healthcare. The Marie Curie Charity proclaimed that the study is not permission to carry on with business as usual.
Other top performing countries included Ireland, Belgium, Taiwan, Germany, the United States, Holland, and France. Countries with the poorest performance included Iraq, Bangladesh, China, the Dominican Republic, Iran, and Guatemala.
The study was based on the 2015 Quality of Death Index, which was put together by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a branch of the Economist Group that provides forecasting and advisory services through various means of research and analysis.
It showed that 34 out of 80 countries, fewer than 50 percent, had end-of-life programs that could be described as “good.” These countries made up just 15 percent of the global adult population.
Certain poorer nations have surprisingly high rankings, with Mongolia coming in at 28th and Uganda at 35th. The data was collected from hospitals and medical care environments, and considered the amounts of staff and their capabilities, the price and the quality of end-of-life healthcare.
According to Simon Jones, the director of policy and public affairs at the Marie Curie Charity, despite the U.K.’s top ranking in the recent palliative care study, there are still almost 110,000 people in the country that don’t receive the pain mitigation and old-age care that they need to improve the quality of their lives. Jones worries that if the report eases medical professionals into thinking that nothing is wrong, these people would continue to suffer in their old age.
Roughly 20 percent of people who die in the United Kingdom are not getting the end-of-life healthcare that they need. Given the current population dynamics in the U.K., the demand for healthcare for the elderly is only slated to increase in the coming years.
Jones wants to continue working to expand access for end-of-life healthcare for the people who so desperately need it. He wants to improve the training for palliative care professionals, and make the benefits structuring easier to understand.
According to Annie Pannelay, the author of the recent study, while the United Kingdom should certainly take pride in the acknowledgement, there is still more that the country could do to stay on the cutting edge of end-of-life healthcare. Some of the biggest issues currently plaguing the system include communication between doctors and patients, and the management of a wide range of symptoms.
Claire Henry, the CEO of the National Council for Palliative Care, agrees. Despite the fact that the United Kingdom is a leader in this field, complacency would only increase the number of British citizens forced to suffer at the end of their lives.
Palliative care is a relatively new medical field. Initially, it was associated with the treatment of terminal cancer patients to make their remaining days more comfortable, but it has since expanded to mean a wide range of other things.
The primary focus of palliative care is to improve life and make sure that people of all ages suffering from chronic or life-threatening illnesses maintain a standard level of comfort.
People suffering from cancer, heart failure, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s can all qualify for palliative care.
Just 10 years ago, most medical schools didn’t have palliative care programs. This has quickly changed. There are currently roughly 1,400 hospital palliative care programs in American hospitals, and countries like the U.K. and Australia are progressing even faster.
A typical palliative care team includes a doctor, a nurse, and a social worker. It can also include a chaplain, a psychologist or a psychiatrist, a physical or occupational therapist, and even a nutritionist. The goal of the treatment is to ensure that a patient can deal with their specific illness with the highest degree of comfort.
Palliative care doesn’t necessarily always refer to terminal patients – many patients recover and discontinue palliative care. Other patients may use it periodically, when their chronic disease acts up. In patients who suffer from a disease without a cure, palliative care helps make their final years that much more enjoyable.
This field of healthcare is different from many others in that is holistic. Illnesses can affect nearly every aspect of a patient’s life, and a dedicated team of professionals works to understand that person’s specific problems. In addition to providing physical comfort, caregivers can help educate the patient’s family and friends about their condition, providing peace of mind from worries about what other people might think. They can also help with other life tasks, like grocery shopping and mobility.
The takeaway from the study is that it clearly takes a lot of resources to provide healthcare to people with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. The UK has made great strides in setting up programs that can bring this care to the largest number of people possible, but there is still much work to be done, in England and abroad.