CARE homes are becoming a more common place to die for people in Oxford.

The latest data from Public Health England reveals that about 24 per cent of the deaths registered in 2016 occurred in care homes, up from only 16 per cent five years earlier.

Experts in ageing have urged the Government to put more funding into community care to increase the number of nursing home beds available to meet the future demand.

A study published by King's College London last year pointed out that care homes will be the most common place where people die by 2040, overtaking hospitals.

The PHE data identifies the four most common places of death as hospitals, care homes, hospices and homes.

Although most deaths in Oxford still occurs in hospitals, the number has fallen in five years - from 465 in 2011 to 393 in 2016.

Only 25 per cent of the deaths occurred at home and 6 per cent in hospices.

The King's research says that most people prefer to die in the place they are usually cared for, including home, rather than in a hospital.

Anna Bone, lead author of the study, warned that hospital deaths could rise further unless capacity continues to increase in care homes.

She said: “The projected rise of deaths in care homes is striking and warns of the urgent need to ensure adequate bed capacity, resources and training of staff in palliative care in all care homes in the country.

“If we are to continue enabling people to die in their preferred place, it is essential to invest more in care homes and community health services.

"Without this investment, people are likely to seek help from hospitals, which puts pressure on an already strained system and is not where people would rather be at the end of their lives”.

On average, 47 per cent of deaths registered in England in 2016 took place in hospitals. Home was the second most common place to die, with 23 per cent of the total.

Rick Wright, policy manager for England at the charity Marie Curie, said: “The number of care home beds available to people aged 75 or over has been steadily declining in recent years. This lack of capacity in care homes often leaves people stuck in hospital at the end of their lives.

“It’s plain to see that the demand for community-based end of life care is increasing rapidly beyond the ability to deliver it. The country is woefully unprepared for the care needs of the future."