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North easterners are being asked to tackle a taboo and talk about death as the region launches the UK's first ever charter on end of life care.
The pioneering charter sets out proposals for the kind of care and support which people who are dying, their families and carers, can expect. Once agreed, it will guide those who plan and provide end of life care or support.
NHS North East has worked with a range of partners across health, social care and voluntary sectors, plus patients and carers, to produce A Good Death charter. A public consultation on the charter will run until December. It aims to gather the region's views and start a discussion about death and dying, an issue which is often avoided and ignored, despite being the one common inevitability we all share.
Professor Edwin Pugh, consultant in end of life care in NHS North East, says: "Death and dying is taboo, its reality is put off until the last minute. We live in an increasingly death-denying society, despite the fact that all of us will die. Death and dying is seen as a medical problem. Almost six in 10 people die in our hospitals, even though most people wish to die in the comfort of their own homes. The launch of this charter is the start of a process to make sure our society, and the support services people rely on during these difficult times, respond with compassion to the needs of those people who are dying and their loved ones. This is not principally about dying - it's about ensuring we live life to the fullest of our potential, with meaning and value, in whatever time we have."
The consultation on A Good Death centres on a questionnaire available at www.agooddeath.co.uk and research will also be carried out by an on street team in towns and cities across the region.