The Care Quality Commission has found that one third of clinical commissioning groups have not assessed the end of life care needs of their local populations.
This could mean that local health and care services are not fully equipped or ready to help these people get personalised care at the end of their lives.
A national review by the CQC found that people from certain groups in society are experiencing poorer quality care at the end of their lives than others because providers and commissioners do not always understand or fully consider their specific needs.
In its report, A different ending: Addressing inequalities in end of life care, the CQC reports that only 67% of the 40 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) it surveyed said that they had assessed the end of life care needs of their local populations – meaning that one in three had not.
The CQC also found that only 18% of the 40 CCGs had commissioned specific services for at least one of the population groups considered in its review – this includes people whose social circumstances make them vulnerable, older people, people with dementia, a learning disability, a mental health problem, or a chronic progressive illness other than cancer.
Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the Care Quality Commission, said: While we know there are hospitals, GPs, care homes, hospices and community services across the country that are providing good and even outstanding care to people at the end of their lives, one person that does not get this is one person too many.
“Family members that we spoke to told us they felt marginalised because their loved ones did not have the same level of access to services, or felt like they were treated differently to other people receiving end of life care.
“A person’s diagnosis, age, ethnic background or social circumstances should not affect the quality of care they receive at any point, but certainly not at the end of their lives. What is important is that everyone receives care based on their individual needs, delivered with compassion and sensitivity by staff with the right skills, and that there is regular and effective communication between staff and the dying person and their family.
“We found that where commissioners and services are taking an equality-led approach, responding to individuals’ needs, people receive better care.
“We are committed to encouraging the improvements in services that are needed so that everyone receives the high-quality and personalised care they deserve at the end of their lives.”