Building on the achievements of the Palliative Care Implementation Board to strengthen existing services, the Welsh Government’s Together for Health – Delivering End of Life Care plan sets out how NHS Wales will improve inequalities in end of life care up to 2016.
Key aims of the plan include providing 24/7 support to all people entering the terminal phase of their illness and ensuring pain and symptoms are controlled. Access to appropriate support and symptom control must be the same wherever a person dies – at home, in hospital, in a care home or a hospice.
The plan also stresses that those who wish to be cared for, and to die at home, should be supported in this choice.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said:
“Everybody is affected by the death of a family member or friend who has gone through a final phase of illness. I want, as far as possible, to reduce the amount of distress in the terminal phase of illness for the patient and their family.
“Not only do people need rapid assessment and the best possible treatment, but they also need ongoing support and information about choices when treatment may no longer be effective.
“I want patients to have access to information to help them make decisions about their care and treatment so they have an element of control at the end of their life.
“The NHS must be committed to taking the lead, working with its partners in Wales to deliver this at every single stage of the patient’s journey. All NHS organisations in Wales will be required to publish an annual report on end of life services to enable the public to track progress.”
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Professor of Palliative Medicine, Cardiff University and Velindre NHS Trust, said:
"I went into palliative care because I wanted to improve conditions for patients at the end of their life. When I was a junior doctor, palliative care was neglected, leaving patients and their families isolated and scared.
"Things have improved hugely since then, most recently thanks to the work of the Wales Palliative Care Implementation Board established in 2008. However, more can still be done to ensure good quality end of life and palliative care is readily available, universally.
"The plan published today shows a deep commitment on the part of the Welsh Government to improve end of life care across Wales for patients and their families."
Together for Health – Delivering End of Life Care sets out the requirements of the NHS in Wales and explains how success will be measured.