HC Deb 02 December 1997 vol 302 cc182-3W
Mr. Ashton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the average number of terminally ill patients in the United Kingdom; [18676]

(2) what is the average monthly total of patient deaths in hospices; [18678]

(3) how many hospice beds for terminally ill patients are available in the United Kingdom; [18677]

(4) what is the average monthly total of deaths of patients on palliative care. [18679]

Mr. Boateng

The National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services defines as terminally ill those peoplewith active and progressive disease for which curative treatment is not possible or not appropriate and from which death can reasonably be expected within twelve months".

"Ordinary and day case admissions for England" and "Outpatients and ward attenders for England" contain data on Finished Consultant Episodes and Outpatient Attendances under the main specialty function of Palliative medicine. Copies are available in the Library. These data do not include all terminally ill patients as some of these patients may be receiving treatment in a variety of settings, including the voluntary sector, and information is not collected centrally on the number of patients who are terminally ill at any one time.

There are about 60,000 admissions to hospices and palliative care units in the United Kingdom every year. There are approximately 29,000 deaths in hospice and palliative care units (both voluntary sector and NHS), giving an approximate monthly figure of 2,500 deaths. (Data provided by the Hospice Information Service). Whilst it is possible to give figures for the number of in-patient deaths in the NHS under the care of a palliative care specialist, many other patients who die under the care of the NHS will have received some palliative care. The palliative care approach should inform the care of all NHS patients. The following table shows the number of deaths for patients receiving treatment from a consultant in palliative medicine in the NHS.

Main specialty—Palliative medicine: Estimated number of episodes ending in death (discharge method = 4) by month of admission, NHS hospitals, England
1994–95 1995–961
April 212 241
May 219 279
June 226 259
July 161 247
August 205 279
September 228 279
October 188 273
November 212 275
December 237 298
January 256 303
February 196 268
March 218 273
Total 2,559 3,274


1These figures are provisional.

Data in this table are grossed for coverage.


Department of Health, Hospital Episode Statistics (HES).

According to information from the Hospice Information Service there were 3,134 hospice and palliative care beds (both NHS and voluntary sector) in the United Kingdom in January 1997, of these 595 were in NHS managed units.

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