The National Commitment on end of life care

7 July 2016
Ben Gummer MP announced the Government's response to the Choice Review at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Hospice and Palliative Care

Plans to ensure high quality, compassionate care for everyone at the end of life were unveiled on 5 July by Health Minister Ben Gummer.

Responding to an independent review on choice in end of life care, the government has made six commitments to the public which aim to end variation in end of life care across the health system by 2020. These are:


·  honest discussions between care professionals and dying people;

·   dying people making informed choices about their care;

·   personalised care plans for all;

·   the discussion of personalised care plans with care professionals;

·   the involvement of family and carers in dying people’s care;

·   a key contact so dying people know who to contact at any time of day.


NHS and care professionals will be expected to reflect these commitments in their work. New measures will be developed to ensure local health and care leaders are meeting the high standards expected of them.

Tackling variation in care across the week is key to meeting these commitments and the government is determined to support the NHS and local authorities to do this. Plans include ensuring experts can provide specialist support on end of life care by acting as a first point of contact for anyone who needs them, as part of the newly developing urgent and emergency care hubs in all local areas.  These experts will be available to help dying people or the families of dying people, who may need support with symptom control or deteriorating conditions late at night or at the weekend, as well as clinicians who have questions or need additional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Alongside this new initiative, there will be a focus on improving the training available for clinicians including a national plan aimed at sharing best practice amongst NHS staff. Pilots in Southend and Airedale will also be launched to trial new ways to support clinicians to initiate meaningful conversations with dying people about serious illnesses. The feasibility of a potential new role, a care coordinator, will also be tested with the aim of helping patients to improve their choice and control at end of life, as well as new innovative community care pilots including 24/7 specialised nursing services for end of life care tested in a number of areas.

Health Minister Ben Gummer said:

“Our commitment is that every person nearing the end of their life should expect a good death: attentive, dignified and compassionate care.


“To do this, we will address poor care where it exists and accelerate improvement across the health and social care system in England.  Already there are exemplary models of good care and we will ensure that where care is not so good we can learn from what is best and translate it to where it is needed most.”


Claire Henry MBE, who chaired the independent board 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.”

Simon Chapman, Director of Policy and External Affairs for the National Council for Palliative Care was also a member of the independent board. He says “This provides a framework that, if implemented across the whole of the health and care system, will make a real difference to the care that people at the end of life and their families receive. 

“But the hard work starts now in making sure that the government’s new national commitment for end of life care becomes the reality. We are concerned that, despite the recommendations of the Choice Review, there is no dedicated funding to support this. It is therefore all the more important that end of life care genuinely becomes a core priority for the health and care system, so that we bring an end to the inconsistency and uncertainty that so many people experience. We would also have liked to have seen commitments to support bereaved people as well as stronger commitments to raise public awareness and change behaviour in relation to dying death and bereavement, such as the work of the Dying Matters coalition.”




Share your story

A central part of NCPC's work is listening to what people with personal experience of palliative and end of life care have to say. Please help us by sharing your story.

Share your story