UK Government “Our Commitment to You for End of Life Care”

5th July 2016

Today Health Minister Ben Gummer MP launched the government response to the Review of Choice in End of Life Care. The report entitled “Our Commitment to You for End of Life care” outlines measures to roll out more personalised care; improve care quality; identify and spread innovation; lead on and prioritise support for local leadership; ensure that the right people have the right knowledge and skills to deliver services effectively; work with system partners and the voluntary sector; and ensure accountability and transparency to drive improvement.

In the foreword to “Our Commitment to You for End of Life Care” Mr Gummer said: “Whilst we have a proud tradition of palliative care in this country, most notably the modern hospice movement founded by Dame Cicely Saunders, we all know that good care for the dying is far from universal ….. Our commitment is that every person nearing the end of their life should receive attentive, high quality, compassionate care, so that their pain is eased, their spirits lifted and their wishes for their closing weeks, days and hours are respected. We shall ensure that all the needs of the dying person – spiritual, physical and familial – are provided for in a way that is as that person and those closest to them wish them to be …. Cicely Saunders was articulating an ancient truth when she described her mission: that ‘we should see the last stages of life not as a defeat but as life’s fulfilment’. A good death – peaceful, dignified, reflective, compassionate, in the loving embrace of those closest to the dying person – is already a happy end for hundreds of thousands of people across our nation. In making this commitment, we make that promise universal, so that every dying person in England can live in anticipation of a good death”.

Claire Henry MBE, who chaired the independent board and leads the End of Life Care Coalition says:
“I’m pleased by the overall vision set out in the Government response. They have clearly acknowledged our report, and taken its recommendations seriously.

“To implement the new national commitment for end of life care we all need to work together to make this a reality, to ensure that a real difference can be made to people nearing the end of life and their families. It will be vital that we continue to work with the government to ensure all these commitments are realised as part of all future care delivery. We know that numbers of people dying each year are starting to increase, and we’ll only get one chance to get it right for them.

“It is so important for people to be able to talk openly and honestly about death and dying. People need to feel comfortable and confident discussing their options and choices with health and social care staff, and their wishes and preferences with their families. From there, having their preferences recorded once, and having a single point of contact to coordinate care, will make a powerful difference.”

Department of Health. Our Commitment to you for end of life care. The Government Response to the Review of Choice in End of Life Care. London: DH; 2016. [Read the full report]