Palliative care has shown some improvement in the last year but sharp disparities in standards remain, according to an NHS progress report.
The report found the proportion of practices in primary care using end-of-life care tools had risen 5 per cent to 28 per cent, from June to December 2005.
But it highlighted a 'wide variation' in use of the tools designed to improve choice for patients in where they live and die between strategic health authorities.
A second report from Help the Aged criticised the slow rate of progress and called for improved training of health professionals.
Paul Cann, director of policy at Help the Aged, said: 'We urge the Government not to get too comfortable with any short-term achievements, especially as there is still a long way to go.
'The lack of progress on end-of-life policies in the care home sector is deeply concerning.'
The Help the Aged report surveyed 800 medical professionals and found 59 per cent thought older patients received worse care than their younger counterparts.