The Welsh Government is publishing its plan to improve end-of-life care in Wales.
The plans stress the need for combining compassion with high-quality care, and improve inequalities in end-of-life care up to 2016.
Key aims set out in 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 terminally ill patients who wish to be cared for, and to die at home, should be supported in their decision
The Welsh Government consultation plan 'Together for Health - Delivering End of Life Care', sets out the requirements of the NHS in Wales and explains how success will be measured.
– Health Minister Lesley Griffiths
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.
The plan is now subject to a 12-week consultation period.
In March last year, the Health Minister was given a report which covered the progress made to palliative and end-of-life care over the past three years.
The report by Professor the Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Chair of the Palliative Care Cymru Implementation Board, also highlighted where improvements still needed to be made.
– Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Professor of Palliative Medicine, Cardiff University and Velindre NHS Trust
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.