Current Affairs

House of Lords checks progress of end of life care commitment

A debate on Tuesday 14 March in the House of Lords will explore whether the 2016 National Commitment for End of Life Care is being implemented.

Baroness Ilora Finlay, will use the Questions for Short Debate (QSD) procedure to: “ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to ensure that Clinical Commissioners respect the undertakings made in Our Commitments to you for end of life care: The Government Response to the Review of Choice in End of Life Care.” Fourteen peers are scheduled to speak.

The 2016 Commitment was widely welcomed by end of life and palliative care organisations, including the National Council for Palliative Care. Baroness Finlay, who chairs the Board of Trustees of the NCPC, plans to use the debate to raise concerns about health service planning and ask the Government to explain the variations to date in implementing the National Commitment.

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Earlier this month an academic paper by Baroness Finlay and Harriet Lancaster found wide variations in the amount budged by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for palliative care, and no national consistency in the data gathered to support planning for end of life care. This contrasts with Wales where a national plan ensures fair access, including across the seven days of the week.

An initial analysis by the NCPC of the English Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) produced by 44 “footprints” across England also found wide variations in the degree to which end of life care is part of future plans. Of the 44 STPs NCPC reviewed:

  • 7 (16 percent) gave no mention of end of life care at all
  • 18 (41 percent) mentioned end of life care, but provided no further detail
  • 13 (29 percent) mentioned end of life care, and provided some detail
  • 6 (14 percent) embedded end of life care as a strategic priority

Baroness Finlay, a professor of palliative medicine and past president of the Royal Society of Medicine, said “we get the care we plan for, and so it’s worrying how little mention there is of end of life care in more than half of these STPs.

“We know what a difference good palliative care can make, not only to the dying person but also to their families. This debate will be an opportunity to challenge some slower progress to date, and to make sure that the National Commitment remains a priority.”

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