The UK’s end of life care has been named the best in the world in a new Economist Intelligence Unit report.

The study, which compared 80 countries, cited integration of palliative care into the NHS, specialised staff, community engagement and a strong hospice movement as key reasons for the ranking.

“A very strong marker in our index is the availability of specialised palliative care workers and this is where the UK scores particularly well,” says Annie Pannelay of Economist Intelligence Unit Healthcare. “The UK has a long history of providing treatment in palliative care.

“The other super strong marker is the way that the countries do have a plan for palliative care. That means they are on the dynamic of measuring progress and improving.”

The UK scored 93.9 out of 100 on the EIU’s index and received top marks for affordability for patients and quality of care.

However, the authors noted that there was still room for improvement because of inadequate out-of-hours services, delays in referrals and diagnosis, poor symptom control and poor communication.

Commenting on the findings, Clare Periton, CEO of children’s hospice Helen & Douglas House, said: “Today’s findings ring true and are the culmination of work done by passionate healthcare professionals across the country. It is their personal investment of dedication and expertise that makes the service what it is, going over and beyond to help patients day in, day out.

“However, we must not become complacent with other studies still stating work must be done to make improvements. Quality care costs money and if we are to maintain the world-leading service we can offer our most vulnerable, we must ensure that donations and government backing are increased, with a growing need for end of life care in society.” 

Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Belgium filled out the top five. The US was ranked ninth.