ASKING more terminally ill patients to choose where they want to die has been named a key priority by health providers.

The objective was part of the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEECCG) new End of Life strategy, which also aims to reduce avoidable hospital admissions and the impact on hospital death rates.

Along with Colchester Hospitals University Foundation NHS Trust (CHUFT) it launched a review into its adult End of Life Strategy after the Sir Bruce Keogh review into high death rates.

Death rates were found to be too high under one of the measures, the summary hospital-level mortality indicator (SHMI), which compares the number of patients who die in hospital or within 30 days of being discharged.

A report to the NEECCG board, which was approved on January 28, said: “The focus for the End of Life Strategy is to ensure that all patients achieve ‘a good death’ and their families and carers feel supported.

“The [Keogh] review found that the SHMI at CHUFT was higher than expected and concluded that this was in part a consequence of the lack of genuine choice and support for patients and their families in identifying their preferred place of care.”

Almost 40 doctors surgeries provided information for the review on the number of deaths where the patient was 65 years or older in 2012/13 Of the 2,774 deaths 35 per cent were on the end of life register, and of those half had listed a preferred place where they wished to be cared for.