In the majority of cases of people who die every year, death is highly predictable. This means that there is plenty of time for medical professionals to talk to patients and their families about their wishes and hopes, and to make a plan.
Unfortunately, according to a new report into the National Health Service in the UK, this is not happening and hundreds of thousands of people endure a painful, undignified or lonely death. The Health Services Ombudsman in the UK said that “Our investigations have found that patients have spent their last days in unnecessary pain, people have wrongly been denied their wish to die at home and that poor communication between staff and families has meant that people were unable to say goodbye to their loved ones.”
There is clearly a need in the UK – and no doubt here too – for a change of approach. Next time a politician comes to my doorstep I will be asking how the government (or the next one) proposes to tackle this horrible but remediable situation so that our humanity is respected.