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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

UK named ‘best place to die’

The UK has been ranked the best place in the world to die out of 80 countries, according to the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU).


UK countryside © Shutterstock
The UK is ranked the best place to die out of 80 countries. © Shutterstock

EIU’s 2015 Quality of Death Index, which measures the quality of palliative care, said UK had the best quality of death “thanks to comprehensive national policies, the extensive integration of palliative care into its National Health Service, and a strong hospice movement”.

Using official data and existing research for each country and interviews with more than 120 palliative care experts around the world, the ranking is based on 20 indicators across five categories.

These are: palliative and healthcare environment; human resources, such as the availability of specialised practitioners and their medical knowledge; affordability, including public funding for palliative care; quality of care and community engagement, including the availability of volunteers.

The index found in general income levels were a “strong indicator” of the availability and quality of palliative care, with “wealthy countries clustered at the top”. 

The UK was ranked first place in care environment, affordability and quality of care, second in human resources and third in community engagement. 

Iraq was placed at the bottom of the overall list. The country came last in both care environment and quality of care and was ranked number 79 in human resources. However, it was placed 60th in affordability and 66th in community engagement.

Australia earned second place in the overall index, followed by New Zealand. Taiwan, currently in sixth place, was the only Asian country within the top 10. 

The top 20 countries were mainly European and Asian, with the US ranked 9th and Canada 11th

Despite the UK’s top ranking, EIU said it was still not providing “adequate services to every citizen”. 

It said in May 2015, an investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman highlighted 12 NHS cases with failings including “poor symptom control”, “poor communication and planning” and “not responding to the needs of the dying”.