Palliative care – October 2015

I welcome Marie Curie’s recent Triggers for Palliative Care report, which seeks to highlight the challenges people can face in accessing palliative care with diagnoses other than cancer. I also appreciate the vital work that organisations such as Marie Curie undertake in helping people and their families cope with terminal illness.

Palliative care can play a crucial role in supporting people at incredibly difficult times, so it is deeply concerning that an estimated 92,000 people in England who need palliative care are not currently able to get it. I agree this is something the Government should urgently look at and that people should have better rights to receive care at home, including giving those who are terminally ill with the greatest care needs homecare provided on the NHS.

As you may be aware, the Health Select Committee published a report into end of life care in March 2015, which found great variation in quality and practise across both acute and community settings. The report called on NHS Commissioners to outline how they will ensure that those with a non-cancer diagnosis can also access special palliative care and outlined important recommendations on expanding access and quality of end of life care. I understand that the Government are due to publish their response to this report shortly and I will look closely at their report.

I hope the Government will give careful consideration to the Health Select Committee report, including through a Westminster Hall debate, and work with organisations such as Marie Curie on this very important issue.

I also believe that our care services are currently too fragmented and need to be more joined up from home to hospital, with a single point of contact for those who need it. Our NHS was not designed for the numbers of people living with chronic conditions or multiple needs, so it is vital this is addressed going forward so we ensure everyone can receive high quality care when they need it.