The Health Secretary is backing a new online NHS scheme where people who are dying can share their wishes around treatment and care.
Matt Hancock welcomed the move towards giving chronically ill patients and those nearing death more control of what happens in an emergency, such as whether they would want to be resuscitated or if they wish to die at home.
The online plan, myCMC (my Co-ordinate My Care), enables details to be shared between care providers such as 111, out-of-hours GPs and the ambulance service.
Other details can include emergency contacts, a patient’s cultural or spiritual beliefs, whether they wish to donate their organs and whether they have a pet that needs to be cared for in an emergency.
Deborah James, a stage four bowel cancer patient at the Royal Marsden in London and presenter of the You Me And The Big C podcast, said: “Facing up to an incurable illness is difficult to accept.
“But we need to engage with death, and part of that means making decisions about how you might want to die at home, or in a hospice.
“With myCMC, people such as myself can plan for what might happen in the future.
“It means being in control. It means that, with discussions with my consultant, I can make decisions that help me and my family, and I can get on with living.”
Patients can start their own CMC plan online, in their own time and in their own home.
Once they have finished, they can book an appointment with their GP or nurse, who can add clinical details and upload the plan so that it can be shared with health professionals.
Mr Hancock said: “I’m a huge believer in improving the way we provide care for people through the smart use of technology.
“The best innovations are often brilliantly simple and Co-ordinate My Care is an example which shows the difference the NHS can make to people’s lives when they need it most.
“I want to see improvements across health and care, and more technology like this can help tailor healthcare to individuals and help us fulfil the ambition of the NHS Long Term Plan to move to more person-first care.”
Research on almost 70,000 CMC plans from London – the plan on which myCMC is based – found that fewer than one in five people with a plan died in hospital.
Around half of all deaths tend to occur in hospital.
Professor Julia Riley, the clinical lead for CMC and palliative care consultant at the Royal Marsden, said: “CMC came about after I saw the way in which my sister-in-law was cared for when she died.
“She wanted to die at home, but out-of-hours providers insisted she went to hospital. It would have been better if urgent care providers had known about her wishes in advance.
“That is why we developed CMC, which has helped thousands share their treatment wishes.”