Marie Curie Cancer Care is one of the UK’s largest charities. It was established in 1948 – the same year as the NHS.
Employing more than 2,700 nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals, we expect to provide care to around 25,000 terminally ill patients in the community and in our hospices this year, along with support for their families.
We mainly care for people with cancer but we also care for people with other life limiting illnesses. Our services are always free of charge to patients and their families.
The charity is best known for its network of Marie Curie Nurses working in the community to provide end-of-life care for patients in their own homes.
We have 10 hospices across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and two centres for palliative care research. We also run the world-renowned Marie Curie Research Institute, which investigates the causes and treatments of cancer.
Since 2004, Marie Curie Cancer Care has been campaigning for more patients to be able to make the choice to be cared for and die at home.
Research shows around 70 per cent of people would like to die at home if they had a terminal illness, with a sizeable minority opting for hospice care.
However, more than 50 per cent of cancer deaths still occur in hospital, the place people say they would least like to be.
Our campaign – Supporting the Choice to Die at Home – has attracted widespread support from cancer patients and their families, healthcare professionals and politicians from all parties.
In 2004 we launched our first major palliative care service improvement plan, the Marie Curie Delivering Choice Programme, to provide greater choice for patients in end of life care.
The pilot programme, serving in Boston, Lincolnshire was evaluated by the King's Fund in 2007. The King's Fund report showed that Delivering Choice can double the number of people given the choice to die at home at no extra cost to the tax payer.
The charity's Chief Executive, Thomas Hughes-Hallett sat on the advisory board that fed in to the development of the Government's first ever End of Life Care Strategy, published in July 2008. The Strategy makes possible a doubling in funding for end of life care by 2011 and draws on lessons leant from the development of The Delivering Choice Programme, including recommending that Every Primary Care Trust has plans in place for improving the quality of end of life care.
Financially, around 70 per cent of the charity’s income comes from the generous support of thousands of individuals, membership organisations and businesses, with the balance of our funds coming from the NHS.
We also depend on an army of volunteers to support our work in both care and fundraising.