Skip to main content

Leadership needed to improve End of Life Care, say MPs

29 October 2015

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee have published the follow-up to PHSO (Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman) report: Dying without dignity. The PHSO report, published in May 2015, identified systemic issues affecting the quality and delivery of end of life care.

Committee's recommendations

The Committee has sought to probe why the care failings detailed in Dying without dignity were allowed to happen and has recommended three areas where immediate improvements are needed:

  • Culture, behaviour and training. Staff should be encouraged to report mistakes and near misses, and complaints should be used to drive service improvement. There should be wider provision of end of life care (EOLC) training.
  • Provision of integrated, 24/7 palliative and End of Life Care services. Successful examples of integrated, round-the-clock services from across the UK must be replicated more widely so that all end of life care patients can receive the care they need when they need it.
  • Leadership and commissioning. The Committee says that  proper leadership is desperately needed in achieving improvements in palliative and end of life care. Leaders must ensure that EOLC is given sufficient priority and that all staff receive the necessary training and support. Compassionate care must be valued and encouraged. This can be achieved only through leadership by example, with leaders demonstrating that care and compassion are valued at every level of the organisation.

Chair's comment

Chairman of the Committee, Bernard Jenkin, says,

The PHSO report showed us some shocking examples of poor treatment of our most vulnerable patients. We welcome the collaborative action being taken to drive improvements in end of life care, but change needs to come faster and there needs to be proper accountability.

The recent defeat in the House of Commons of the Assisted Dying Bill underlines the need for better palliative care across the UK, as many speeches emphasised. The Government needs to explain how it will ensure that the improvements in leadership, training and round the clock care that we are calling for will be delivered. 

Further information

Image: iStockphoto