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Palliative Care Bill

The Access to Palliative Care Bill had its second reading (the general debate on all aspects of the Bill) in the House of Lords on 23rd October.  The committee stage (line by line examination of the Bill) is yet to be scheduled.

Baroness Ilora Finlay, a palliative care doctor who introduced the Bill, wrote,” We need more efficient and equitable care and support for those most in need…. Despite the UK being a global leader in the provision of palliative care services, there is a lot that needs to be done in order to be able to claim that patients, their families and their carers in this country get the care and support they deserve.

“To achieve these goals, we need to ensure that all health and social care providers have received the necessary education and training in palliative care and are therefore ready to provide services of the highest standards.

“The Palliative Care Bill lays the foundations for a more efficient, humanised and universal palliative care system that will place the patient and their needs at the centre. Any conversation around assisted dying would only distract our attention from what is truly important - the fact that everyone at the end of life needs access to the expert. This access will enable them to ensure that what they experience, and what lives on in the memories of those left behind, is the good death that we aim to make possible for everyone.” @

Baroness Finlay is Co-Chair of Living and Dying Well and Chair Elect of National Council for Palliative Care.

What happens next?

According to Scott Sinclair, Head of Policy and Public Affairs with Marie Curie, “Though the Bill will move through to the committee stage, without government support it will likely be voted down upon reaching the House of Commons. This is a real shame and Baroness Finlay is justified in describing herself as saddened by the government’s response.

“It is astounding that the government can be content to wait for CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) to take action when one in four people don’t get the care and support they need at the end of their life and this is set to grow worse. As Baroness Finlay pointed out, dying is an issue that impacts on every single one of us. Surely this, if anything, is an issue that government should take action on.”

A report by Channel 5 based on freedom of information requests found that 45% of CCGs who responded had frozen or cut their end of life care budget for 2015-16.

Mr Sinclair added, “This is why we’re calling for MPs for a further debate on palliative care in the House of Commons in November. If you agree, please contact your MP to ask them to support our call for a debate.” @