First national bereavement survey published by the Department of Health


The Department of Health have published the results of the first nationwide survey of bereaved relatives in England.

The survey looked at the last 3 months of life and assessed the quality of care that people received and how this varied in different parts of the country and in different groups of patients.

The postal survey was sent to the person who registered the death of the deceased (usually a relative or friend) and was answered by 46% of those invited to respond.

The results make for interesting reading:

Quality of care

Overall quality of care was rated as outstanding by 12% of respondents, excellent by 30%, good by 33%, fair by 14% and poor by 10%.

Figure 1. Ratings of overall quality of care across all services in the last three months of life

Source: Office for National Statistics

Dignity and respect

Staff who work in hospices came out on top with regards to always showing dignity and respect to patients. Hospital staff did less well on this measure.

Figure 2. How often the patient was treated with dignity and respect in the last three months: by setting or service provider

Source: Office for National Statistics

Pain relief

Pain relief was reported as being provided completely (all of the time) most in hospices and least at home.

Figure 3. How well pain was relieved during the last three months of life: by care setting

Source: Office for National Statistics

Quality of care for people with and without dementia

One-fifth of patients had dementia or senility mentioned on their death certificate. This varied across the cause of death groups: 15% of cardiovascular deaths, 4% of cancer deaths and 37% of other deaths had dementia mentioned. 56% of care home deaths had dementia mentioned and 32% of patients aged 80 years or over had dementia mentioned.

Figure 4. Ratings of overall quality of care across all services in the last three months of life: for people with and without dementia mentioned on the death certificate

Source: Office for National Statistics


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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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