Tuesday 25 June 2019

The number of people in high income countries needing palliative care will jump by more than 50pc by 2060 - study

By 2060, an estimated 48 million people each year would die with serious health-related suffering. Stock photo
By 2060, an estimated 48 million people each year would die with serious health-related suffering. Stock photo

Jane Kirby

The number of people in high income countries dying with "serious health-related suffering" is set to jump by more than 50% by 2060, experts have said.

Cancer and dementia will drive up the numbers needing palliative care in most countries globally, including the UK, according to a new study.

Serious health-related suffering is defined as suffering that leads to a need for palliative care and pain relief.

The new research, published in The Lancet Global Health, found that the number of people dying with palliative care needs globally was set to almost double over the next four decades.

By 2060, an estimated 48 million people each year would die with serious health-related suffering, around 47% of all deaths, and an 87% increase compared to 2016.

Most of these people would be in low and middle income countries but high income countries such as the UK would also be affected.

In high income countries, three million more people would die with serious health-related suffering in 2060, an increase of 57% compared to 2016 - from around five million to around eight million.

Globally, the increase in serious health-related suffering would be driven by rises in cancer deaths - 16 million people dying each year with serious health-related suffering by 2060, a 109% increase on 2016.

For dementia, six million people would be dying each year with serious health-related suffering by 2060 - a 264% increase on 2016.

In high income countries, 2.34 million people in 2016 were dying with serious health-related suffering caused by cancer, rising to 3.23 million in 2060, and for dementia the jump was from 575,000 people in 2016 to 1.76 million in 2060.

The study made projections on the number of people who would experience health-related suffering as they died but did not take into account whether people would receive palliative care and whether the care would be of a good standard.

Lead author, Dr Katherine Sleeman, honorary consultant in palliative medicine at the Cicely Saunders Institute at King's College London, said: "The number of people dying with serious health-related suffering in high income countries (for example the UK) will increase by 57% between 2016 and 2060.

"This means that in high income countries, for every 100 people dying today with palliative care needs, by 2060 there will be more than 150.

"Cancer and dementia will be the main drivers of this increase.

"Research has shown that palliative care can reduce suffering for people approaching the end of life by improving symptoms such as pain, improving their quality of life, increasing the chance of dying at home, and reducing the likelihood of emergency hospital admission.

"In light of the projected increase in the number of people dying with serious health-related suffering, provision of high quality palliative care services should be a policy priority."

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