Lords debate to scrutinise progress on end of life care

A debate into the success of scheme that aims to improve care for the dying is set to take place tomorrow. 

The House of Lords will convene on Tuesday 14 March to evaluate the success of the 2016 National Commitment for End of Life Care. 

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."

The Commitment was considered to be a major step forward for many end of life and palliative care organisations, including the National Council for Palliative Care. 

Chair of the NCPC Baroness Finlay hopes 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. 

Earlier this month an academic paper by Baroness Finlay and Harriet Lancaster found a considerable variation in the amount of money budgeted by CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) for palliative care, in addition to a national consistency in the data gathered to support planning for end of life care. 

This is in stark contrast to Wales where a nation plan ensure fair access for all, seven days a week. 

Furthermore, an NCPC analysis of the English Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) found much variation in the degree to which end of life care is part of future plans. 

Of the 44 STPs the NCPC reviewed:House of Lords set to scrutinise progress on end of life care

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

Baroness Finlay, who is a professor of palliative medicine and past president of the Royal Society of Medicine, is hoping to use the debate to help highlight the importance of The Commitment.

She 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.”