Tag Archives: care

nestle choco

Nestle to slash amount of sugar in chocolate bars by 10% by 2018

Some of the UK’s favourite chocolate bars – including Kit Kats and Yorkies – will contain 10% less sugar by 2018, Nestle has announced.

The confectioner said it would use around 7,500 tonnes less sugar to make its products by next year.

The sugar will be replaced with higher quantities of other existing ingredients or other, non-artificial ingredients

Nestle has said it will use 10% less sugar in its chocolate bars, which include Kit Kats, by 2018

Products will also be kept below a certain amount of calories.

Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and CEO of Nestle UK and Ireland, said: “Our confectionery brands have been enjoyed in the UK for more than a century and we know that if we can improve these products nutritionally, provide more choice and information for the consumer, together with other categories, we can have a significant impact on public health.

“Nestle is at the forefront of efforts to research and develop new technology that makes food products better for our consumers.

“These innovations will help us to reduce sugar in confectionery when they are combined with other, more common methods like reformulating recipes and swapping sugar for other, non-artificial ingredients.

“Making these improvements to our products is key to us delivering better choices for our consumers while retaining the same great taste that they know and love.”

Sourced by the Mail Online

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Elderly Care: The problem no-one can fix

Gathering dust on a shelf in the Department of Health’s London headquarters is a plan for reform of the care system for the over-65s in England. It is the much heralded cap on care costs, which was a key part of the 2015 Tory manifesto .

It was meant to have launched in April. But last summer ministers announced it was to be postponed until 2020 amid concerns it would not work given the pressures in the system.

Officially it still remains policy, but many doubt it will ever see the light of day – even former Care Minister Norman Lamb, one of the architects of the plan, is in this camp. Instead, they believe it is destined to go down on the long list of failed changes to the system.

The care system has remained more or less unchanged since it was created, along with the NHS, after World War Two, when life expectancy was nearly 10 years shorter than it is now.

But people are not only living longer, they are surviving with more complex conditions that require care and support. So just at the time when you would expect the amount of support provided by the government to be rising, it is falling.

Councils complain they do not have enough money – the Local Government Association estimates the gap between what they need and what they get will be about £4bn by the end of the decade. That would leave them about a third short of what they need

So what can be done? Over the years a variety of suggestions have been put forward.

Increases in tax or national insurance contributions could be used to put more money in – and in a way this has already been done, as councils have been given the power to raise council tax to fund care. But already it looks like that will not be enough.

How much does it cost to be old?

State of care for the over 65s

One million

people with care needs go without help

  • 4 in 10 people in care homes pay for themselves
  • 300,000 fewer people receive council-funded help within four years
  • £100,000 or more is now spent on care in later years for 1 in 10 people

Other options include diverting existing spending on pensioner benefits (the winter fuel allowance for example) to go on care. But ministers seem reluctant to tackle that.

In the dying days of the Labour government, a plan was drawn up to create a universal care system – giving everyone a minimum entitlement to care.

But the Tories leapt on that, suggesting it would be paid for by a “death tax”. And it was soon consigned to the bin.

There has also been talk of merging the system with the NHS – the budget for which is 10 times more than what councils spend on care.

But following Andrew Lansley’s changes to the health service, there is little appetite in the corridors of power for more structural upheaval.

Instead, the NHS is being encouraged to, in the words of one social care director I spoke to, tinker around the edges by setting up shared budgets under a scheme called the Better Care Fund, currently worth £5bn a year.

The result is that councils are left to limp on. Each year, they cut the amount of care they can provide.

It leaves people to pay for themselves, rely on family and friends or, increasingly, go without care.

Elsewhere in the UK, the devolved governments have tried to offer more generous access to help in the home – it is capped in Wales and provided largely free in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The hope is that it will keep people well – and their costs down. But people still complain they are struggling to get the help they really need.

It means those with money are increasingly having to subsidise the government-funded system – people who pay for their own places in care homes pay nearly 50% more on average than the fees councils pay homes.

Meanwhile, those without have to rely on family and friends or simply go without. As always, there will be calls for reform. The problem is no-one seems to have a plan.


Source BBC News

Care chiefs’ message to Osborne: we fear a wave of Care Homes closing down

Health and social care chiefs are demanding a crisis meeting with George Osborne and Jeremy Hunt to avert what they fear could be a wave of care home closures within months after years of spending cuts.

“What happened to the £6 billion originally earmarked for the full implementation of the Care Act?”
Care chiefs’ letter to ministers

Leaders of four separate organisations representing council and NHS bodies have written to the Chancellor and Health Secretary, warning that plans unveiled in the recent spending review fall short of what is needed to avert disaster in the care system in England.

They also question whether £6 billion originally earmarked for reform of the care system under the Coalition government has been quietly diverted into other spending areas.

Health secretary Jeremy HuntJeremy Hunt  Photo: Andrew Crowley/The Telegraph

Crucially, they fear that the introduction of the new National Living Wage, being phased in from next spring, could tip care providers over the edge financially unless extra cash is forthcoming.

While spending on the NHS has been protected throughout Mr Osborne’s austerity cuts, councils which are responsible for care for elderly and disabled people have seen their budgets slashed by around 40 per cent.

NHS facing 37,000-strong influx of elderly as care homes close

Care system ‘crumbling’ after broken promise on fees cap – inquiry chair

The warning came in a letter jointly signed by the leaders of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass); the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS bodies; the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of 75 charities, and the Care Provider Alliance.

“Ultimately the package put forward for social care will not enable us to fill the current gap in funding, cover additional costs associated with the introduction of the National Living Wage, nor fully meet future growth in demand due to our ageing population,” they wrote.

“There is the potential for significant and adverse impacts … including an acceleration of the failure of domiciliary, residential and nursing home providers.”
Care chiefs’ letter to ministers

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: “The NHS is not an island, it is part of a single system.

“Without sufficient investment in social care the sustainability of the NHS is called into question.”

The elderly deserve good quality care, regardless of age. There are fears of care homes closing  Photo: Getty Images

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, said: “We are now on the fast-track towards a care home collapse, leaving our elderly friends and family in care limbo, not knowing where they will go if a care home closes.

“It cannot be left solely to local council taxpayers to fix our chronically underfunded social care system.

“If proper funding for social care is not urgently addressed, essential services will remain increasingly at risk and the full needs of older and disabled people and their carers who require vital care and support will not be met.”

Source The Telegraph

NHS rationing ‘is denying patients care’ as cash crisis deepens

Patients are being denied mental health care, new hips and knees, and drugs to boost their recovery from illnesses including cancer as the NHS increasingly rations treatments to try to overcome its growing cash crisis.

A survey of doctors reveals that three-quarters said they had seen care rationed in their area over the last year – including treatments such as speech therapy, operations to remove varicose veins, Botox to help children with cerebral palsy move better and even potentially life-saving stem cell transplant surgery.

Disabled children were having to use ill-fitting wheelchairs, teenage girls were banned from accessing medication to tackle male-style hair growth and women had been unable to access surgery to have breast enlargements or reductions as a result of growing restrictions across England, the research concluded.

Medical organisations said the findings showed patients were paying the price because an underfunded NHS was having to force them to wait for care or deny it altogether.

Dr Mark Porter, leader of the British Medical Association, said: “The NHS is being forced to choose between which patients to treat, with some facing delays in treatment and others being denied some treatments entirely. This survey lays bare the extreme pressure across the system and the distress caused to patients as a result.”

Almost four in five (78%) of the 749 doctors in England who took part in the survey – conducted for the Guardian by Binley’s OnMedica, a healthcare data and intelligence provider – said patients who were denied treatment suffered increased anxiety as a result.

One patient killed himself after experiencing a delay in receiving help with mental health problems.

Another doctor told how “several teenage girls with hirsutism [male-style hair growth on the face, chest or back] have experienced severe psychological distress and bullying [after being denied drugs to treat it]. Some have self-harmed and been admitted to hospital as a result”.

A 22-year-old woman with relapsed acute myeloid leukaemia died after being denied a second allogeneic stem cell transplant.

Her doctor said her late relapse and good response to salvage chemotherapy meant there was a 50% chance that a further transplant would have cured the disease.

However, the local GP-led clinical commissioning group refused to fund the procedure, which would have used healthy stem cells to try to help her bone marrow, and she received palliative care instead.

The findings prompted the health minister David Prior to warn that NHS bodies might be acting illegally by rationing.

“Treatment decisions should only be made by doctors based on a patient’s individual clinical needs,” he said. “Local health bodies have a legal responsibility to provide services meeting the needs of their local population, and we expect NHS England to act if there is any evidence of inappropriate rationing of care.”

Almost two-thirds (64%) of doctors said patients would be forced to go private.

A quarter (26%) said the rationing of procedures, such as hernia repairs, made it more likely that the person would end up being admitted to hospital as an emergency if their health worsened.

Prof Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said she was concerned that some of society’s most vulnerable children, including those with disabilities and mental health problems, were being affected by NHS rationing.

“The financial pressures on the NHS are subjecting vulnerable children to a postcode lottery,” she said.

Most (86%) of the 536 hospital doctors and 213 GPs who took part said rationing was occurring “for financial reasons” and 39% said it was “to help manage demand”.

Only 28% said it was because the evidence for the clinical evidence for certain treatments had changed and so they were no longer recommended.

The survey also found that:

  • Significant minorities of medics had seen restrictions on the removal of benign lumps and bumps (36%), breast reduction or enlargement (31%), varicose vein treatment (31%) and cosmetic surgery (28%).
  • Almost one in four (23%) had encountered drugs being rationed because they were too expensive. Cancer treatments were cited by 13% of doctors and “costly drugs” by 10%.
  • The same number (23%) had seen fertility treatment cut back.
  • Eighteen per cent had come across mental health care being withheld.
  • And 10% had seen hip and knee replacements cut back, despite the ageing population leading to growing numbers of older people needing such surgery.

One doctor in southern England told Binley’s how disabled children forced to wait for more than a year to receive injections of Botox, which is used to treat muscle conditions such as spasticity in children and adults, suffered increased pain or disability as a result.

The same doctor said that, due to rationing of wheelchairs, “children waiting for wheelchairs have pain and deformity from ill-fitting chairs, which are contributing to hip dislocation and worsening scoliosis”.

In addition, physiotherapists working with children using ill-fitting wheelchairs believed their role was “almost negated by the lack of postural control for these children”.

Modi said: “Of course this is concerning. No child or young person should receive a different level of care because of where they live. Some of the examples cited here involve some of the most vulnerable children – those with mental health problems and with long-term conditions. It’s crucial that these children get the right treatment, and where appropriate equipment, to manage their condition. If this isn’t the case, not only will their quality of life be compromised, but problems will be stored up for the future.”

Doctors are divided on rationing; 94.4% think it will inevitably increase as a result of the rising demand for care and NHS’s tight finances.

Three-quarters (74%) believe that the NHS is right to be rationing treatments either because that helps the NHS survive financially, or because not all treatments should be funded by the service or because free NHS services can be abused by patients.

However, one doctor said rationing was “a false economy. If people are not treated early, their problems become more costly to treat and they need to be treated for longer, leading to greater overall cost across the NHS in order to save a little in one part.”

Another said restricting care “is detrimental to the patient/doctor relationship if there is a feeling that treatments and tests are withheld on financial grounds only”.

Sarah Eglington, Binley’s healthcare intelligence director, said: “The fact that the majority of doctors surveyed are aware of restrictions on NHS services or treatments in England will shock many. But the harsh reality revealed by our research is that rationing is already occurring and it is likely to become increasingly common owing to rising demand for care and the NHS’s tight finances. Health professionals don’t want decisions purely to be made on cost.”

An NHS England spokeswoman said: “The basis on which people receive NHS care – within the funds parliament makes available – should always reflect their ability to benefit from treatment. The NHS strives to ensure we get maximum value from every penny available on behalf of patients.”

The findings come after a National Audit Office report found that one in four patients now struggles to get through to their GP surgery on the telephone, and dissatisfaction with family doctor services is rising. In 2014-15, 27% of patients said it was not easy to speak to their practice by phone, up from 19% in 2011-12.

Three-quarters of patients get an appointment within the timeframe they wanted but, overall, satisfaction is slowly declining, the NAO found.

The percentage of patients who get to see their preferred GP always, almost always or most of the time, has also fallen, from 66% in 2011-12 to 60% in 2014-15.

A fifth of patients also said opening hours were not convenient, up slightly on 2011-12.

Source The Guardian

Dementia Carers suffer depression

4 in 10 Dementia Carers suffer depression

according to researchers from University College London.

 

Two-thirds of the people suffering from Dementia are currently living at home with their loved ones, which equates to 670,000 carers in Britain alone, and most of these people will be elderly themselves.

 It has now emerged that 40% (up to 250,000) of those caring for loved ones are clinically depressed themselves.

Helping to support those suffering from Dementia will not only improve their mental health but will also relieve some of the pressures that the carers are currently experiencing.  This will reduce the odds of the relative having to be taken into a nursing home or hospital.

Rebecca Wood, the chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research UK charity, said:

‘Dementia doesn’t only affect those who are diagnosed with the condition: its effects are felt far and wide, not least for individuals and families who are caring for their loved ones.’

23 Million people in the UK will have a friend or relative who suffers from Dementia in some way. The symptoms are likely to appear in many other cases as well, but are not severe enough to be clinically diagnosed. Many more people will have early signs of dementia but will not take on any care at that stage.  

A number of patients simply refuse to believe that they have any illness, so resist any kind of help. This can have serious effects on the family and carers of dementia patients who struggle to cope with their diagnosis.

However, help and care is available to utilize, but even this doesn’t seem to cut the odds of metal health problems.

Carers are expected to have access to clinical psychologists, but it has emerged that there aren’t enough available for them. Only now has a proper treatment programme been designed.

However, an inexpensive and easy-to-teach course devised at UCL could hold the solution.

Professor Livingston tested 173 carers in an eight-hour course to compare their own progress to that of another 90 who went about their lives as normal. This course covered topics on how to manage their relatives’ behaviour, communicate with doctors regarding their situation and just makes time for themselves.

Carers were introduced to the Strategies for Relatives Programme (START) and asked to work out what part of the programme benefited them and to continue practicing 

them. The carers who continually practiced this course were seven times less likely to be depressed than those who didn’t according to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said:

‘If results like these were found with a new drug, it would be hailed a breakthrough.

‘This programme gives us an effective way to support carers and reduce depression and anxiety, which will have the added benefit of improving life for those that they care for.

‘It is great to see research focusing on improving the well-being of dementia carers whilst other scientists search for treatments and a cure.

‘Too often people forget the profound effect dementia has on loved ones caring for someone with dementia and surrounding friends and family.’

Our Care Plans on Dementia sets out a clear explanation of the resident’s issue, and will guide the nurse or carer through the process of preparing a comprehensive, individual person centred Care Plan.

If you would like to try our Care Plans relating to Dementia please click the link – Try Our Care Plans

Our website offers a whole range of other care plans for carers and nurses that could help you. Please visit today – Planning For Care


 Dementia care

 

Councils reject two-thirds of requests for care

Two-thirds of older and disabled people in England who turn to their local councils for help with care are turned away, figures show.

Nearly 1.85 million requests for support were made last year, but just over 650,000 people received help.

Councils have been warning for a number of years that a shortage of funding is causing problems.

But the figures – the first to be compiled in this way – illustrate how difficult it is for people to get help.

Only 144,000 of the requests for help resulted in long-term care, which includes places in care homes or help in the home for tasks such as washing and dressing.

Nearly 220,000 got short-term help, such as rehabilitation after discharge from hospital, and another 300,000 got low-level support such as walking aids and telecare.

The rest either received nothing or were advised to seek help from charities, the NHS or from housing services.

Unlike the NHS, social care is not free so everybody will pay something towards the cost of their care with some covering the entire cost.

‘Alarming picture’

Meanwhile, a separate survey of nearly 70,000 people who did get help revealed their experiences of care.

Some 65% said they were extremely or very satisfied with their care and 26% were quite satisfied, but one in 10 was not.

One in 20 did not feel clean or presentable and the same proportion said they did not always get enough food and drink.

The care system

  • Unlike the NHS, social care provided in an individual’s home or in residential care is not free. Only the poorest get help.
  • The number of older and disabled people receiving council help fell by 28% between 2009-10 and 2013-14.
  • The Local Government Association predicts if extra money is not put in there will be a shortfall of more than £4bn in care services by 2020 – and that is before the implications of the national living wage are taken into account.
  • An estimated 1.5 million older people with care needs rely on family and friends for help.
  • One in 10 older people faces bills in excess of £100,000 over their lifetime for care.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent Age, said the figures painted an “alarming picture of services cut back to the bare bones”.

“This is a direct result of £4.6bn cuts to social care budgets since 2010 and comes despite an ageing population which is increasing the need for these services,” she added.

The figures come after a coalition of health and care groups wrote to the Treasury last month warning that the care sector needed to be protected as the “deepening crisis” was putting people in danger.

The government said its spending plans would be revealed in November, but pointed out that a £5.4bn fund – the Better Care Fund – had been established in April to ensure NHS money was used for services that support council-organised care.

But Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, said: “We need to see a change to the current perverse funding system which, over the last five years, has seen an increase in funding for the NHS but a decrease in funding for social care.

“This threatens to leave councils struggling to commission the essential support which keeps people out of hospital and living healthier and happier lives in their communities.”

Source BBC News

‘Care services overhaul needed’ as numbers of cancer survivors soar

A major reorganisation of care services is needed to cope with soaring numbers of cancer survivors, experts have said.

By 2030, the number of people living with cancer in the UK is predicted to double from two million to four million.

Meeting the extra demand will mean shifting responsibility away from cancer specialists and allowing GPs to play more of a role, according to a report.

In the next 20 years, the number of oncologists in high-income countries such as the UK is expected to grow by only a quarter.

Professor Greg Rubin, from the University of Durham, who led The Lancet Oncology Commission report, said: “It is too simplistic to assume that providing more oncologists is the solution.

It is the way that health care providers work together that holds the key to meeting this need.

“Hospitals, primary care doctors and other community partners need to be better co-ordinated for after-care, survivorship, and end of life care, so that patients receive good quality care, outcomes improve and inequalities are reduced.”

Up to now managing cancer in high-income countries had mainly focused on life-saving or prolonging treatments delivered in hospital, while the role of primary care had been “seen as marginal”, said Prof Rubin.

He added: “With the growing emphasis in recent years on early diagnosis and on the patient experience during and after treatment, the vital role of primary care doctors has become clear.”

Prof Rubin went on: “With an ageing population and a rapidly increasing number of cancer survivors, the primary care cancer workload will increase substantially over the next 10 years. Our challenge is how to prepare primary care doctors as the cornerstone in prevention, early detection, survivorship and palliative care.”

The report said cancer patients and their families wanted care that was accessible, close to home, continuous and co-ordinated.

Yet in many countries primary care doctors were given no formal cancer-managing role either during or after treatment. Also, they were often bypassed when palliative care was needed.

Evidence from the US showed that long-term cancer survivors who regularly saw both primary care doctors and oncologists were more likely to have all their requirements met, said the report.

Other research from the UK, Canada and Australia found that integrated after-care of cancer sufferers improved patient satisfaction and did not affect rates of cancer recurrence or survival.

The authors set out a range of measures to improve co-ordination between primary and secondary care and to ensure that GPs had the skills to fulfil a cancer-management role.

These included better access to diagnostic tests underpinned by comprehensive guidelines, improving education and support, building new models of shared care between GPs and oncologists, greater communication with specialists, easy referral back to hospital care and robust monitoring systems.

Public awareness campaigns were one way to help prevent patients delaying visits to their GPs, the report added.

A lung cancer awareness campaign in England with the strapline “been coughing for three weeks or more? Tell your doctor” led to a 67% increase in people of all ages visiting their GPs with a cough.

Around 90% of people with cancer make a GP their first port of call when seeking help, highlighting the need for primary care professionals to make confident cancer diagnoses at earlier stages of disease, said the experts.

Prof Rubin said: “Primary care doctors are expert generalists who provide continuous and comprehensive care to patients and their families, and do this in the context of the patient’s social and domestic circumstances. As such they have much to offer people with cancer, and should be enabled to do so.”

Source Yahoo News

Care of vulnerable people ‘put in danger’

The dignity, heath and wellbeing of older people and those with disabilities in England are in danger, health and care groups warn.

In a joint submission to the Treasury ahead of November’s Spending Review, 20 organisations said the care sector was facing a “deepening crisis”.

They have called for funding to councils to be protected, as is happening with the NHS.

Ministers said investment in health would also benefit the care sector.

The government pointed out that plans were being put in place to ensure greater joint working between the two sectors that would relieve some of the pressures.

However, the signatories of the submission, who include leaders of councils, the NHS, care providers and charities, said that they still feared for the future.
‘In jeopardy’

The document said that the market was “fragile” with councils forced to freeze fees and providers exiting the sector.

The submission said this was driving up prices for those who fund themselves and leading to fewer people getting state-funded support.

While the government has pledged an extra £8bn a year for the NHS by 2020, social care has received no such assurances.

A system in crisis?

  • Unlike the NHS, social care provided in an individual’s home or in residential care is not free. Only the poorest get help.
  • 1.3m older and disabled people received state-funded support last year – down by 500,000 in four years.
  • The Local Government Association predicts if extra money is not put in there will be a shortfall of over £4bn in care services by 2020 – and that is before the implications of the national living wage are taken into account.
  • An estimated 1.5m older people with care needs rely on family and friends for help.
  • One in 10 older people face bills in excess of £100,000 over their lifetime for care.

Ray James, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, one of the signatories to the submission, said: “It is vitally important that this year’s Spending Review understands the importance of our services to vulnerable people.

“The near-certainty is that without adequate and sustained finances our ability to carry out our will be in jeopardy.”
‘Unprecedented scale’

Frank Ursell, of the Care Providers Alliance, which was also involved in the submission, added that the challenges were on an “unprecedented scale”.

“Collectively, we deliver essential care to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“Doing nothing is simply not an option if this country is to honour its obligations to older people and adults of all ages with mental health problems and disabilities.”

Meanwhile, Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service managers, said: “Having a shiny NHS cog will be no good in a broken health and care machine.

“All these services are interconnected and all need greater financial certainty.”

But a Department of Health spokesman said the care sector would be benefitting from the extra investment in the NHS, adding “we are already getting NHS and councils working together to keep people well and living independently”.

In April the government launched the £5.3bn Better Care Fund, which is largely funded by the NHS, and is aimed at joint working between councils and the NHS.

Source BBC News

End-of-life care for terminally ill ‘needs major overhaul’

The UK’s care system for dying patients with terminal illnesses is lacking and needs a major overhaul, says a damning new report.

According to London School of Economics researchers, more than 100,000 people a year who would benefit from palliative care are not getting it.

Patients are being left without sufficient pain relief and respite.

NHS England said it was committed to ensuring terminally-ill patients got the support and services they needed.

Ageing population

The report found inequalities in access to good care, with certain groups of patients more likely to miss out.

With an ageing population and demand for care increasing, the problem looked set to worsen, it warned.

Those who currently miss out include:

  •     the “oldest old” (aged 85 and over)
  •     people living alone
  •     people living in deprived areas
  •     black, Asian and ethnic minority groups

Most palliative care goes to cancer patients, even though the diseases account for less than a third of deaths.

Only a fifth of new referrals to specialist end-of-life services are for people with non-cancer diagnoses.

According to the report, commissioned by the Marie Curie charity, providing palliative care to those that need it could improve the quality of life for thousands of patients and save the NHS money by preventing unwanted and distressing hospital treatment.

By their calculations, the net potential savings are more than £30m in England, at least £2m in Wales, more than £1m in Northern Ireland and more than £4m in Scotland.

Meanwhile, a separate MORI poll of 500 health professionals who look after terminally-ill patients – also commissioned by Marie Curie – reveals that many feel there is insufficient funding and staffing to provide the level of care needed.

Likewise, a recent poll of 1,067 carers – mostly family members, friends or neighbours of terminally-ill people – felt the current care system did not offer enough support.

‘System under strain’

Denis McKnight, 68, from Northern Ireland, cared for his wife, Georgina, who had motor neurone disease.

A district nurse would visit once a week, but Mr McKnight said this was nowhere near enough to meet their care needs.

He said: “I felt alone. I felt almost abandoned, except for my family.

“Palliative care as it is provided by the nursing system is the best that they can possibly do. Most nurses would want to do the very best job possible. They just don’t have the resources to do it.

“It’s the system that is cracking under the strain.”

When Mr McKnight struggled to cope with his wife’s increasingly demanding care needs as her disease progressed, a friend suggested he ask Marie Curie for help.

Mrs McKnight was unable to walk or move for herself and could not swallow, so needed to be fed via a tube.

Mr McKnight said: “I’m more than grateful for what Marie Curie did, even for that short period of time. They stepped in as specialists and gave specialist help.

“They were able to step into the breach – a breach that’s been created through lack of resources in the ordinary healthcare system.”

Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Marie Curie, said: “Everyone affected by terminal illness should have access to all the care and support they need, regardless of their personal circumstances. This report shows that this is not the case, and some groups are getting a worse deal than others. We don’t think this is good enough.”

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, called the current situation a “national disgrace”.

“These findings mirror many of the inquiries to our national helpline. It is unacceptable that we continue to fail the most vulnerable in our society.”

Dr Bee Wee, national clinical director for end-of-life care at NHS England, said: “NHS England is committed to ensuring that all patients get the support and services they need towards the end of life.”

Sourced from the BBC Online

Over a quarter of board members on new bodies commissioning NHS care have links to the private health sector

More than a quarter of board members on the new bodies charged with commissioning care for the NHS have links to the private health sector, new analysis shows.

Research by the Unite union showed that nearly 1,000 Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) board members have professional connections to private healthcare firms – with many holding directorships or owning such firms outright.

The figures will fuel concerns that CCGs, which were introduced by former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, will be biased towards awarding lucrative contracts to healthcare companies rather than state providers. Critics have claimed the reforms represent “privatisation by stealth”.

CCGs were established in 2013 to replace Primary Care Trusts. They are led by local GPs and were intended to put doctors at the heart of commissioning care provision for services like mental health and elective surgery. They have at their control a budget of £60bn a year.

Of the 3,392 CCG board members, a total of 513 were directors of private healthcare companies: 140 owned such businesses and 105 carried out external work for them. More than 400 CCG board members were shareholders in such companies. In some of these cases, the directorships and shareholdings may be related to GPs’ own surgery companies. But the majority are those of CCG board members with interests in other health providers. Those who carried out external work for the private sector included consultancy, advisory or private practice work for private hospital operators Circle, Spire and BMI and drug companies Lily and AstraZeneca.

At the North Norfolk and South Norfolk CCGs more than 70 per cent of board members had “financial interests” in private health companies, according to the Unite report.

A British Medical Journal report in December found a third of all contracts awarded by CCGs between April 2013 and August 2014 went to private sector providers.

Unite said: “The findings show the devastating extent to which the new financial gatekeepers of our NHS have conflicts of interest which threaten to destroy the trust currently held between patient and GP.”

Potential conflicts of interest have long been seen as a problem in the new system. Conflicted committee members have a duty to declare that and absent themselves from relevant meetings.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Our NHS reforms are saving £1.5bn a year and have put decisions about local care in the hands of doctors and nurses.”

Sourced from the Independent Online