History of NCPC

How it all began

In the late 1980s, as hospices became widespread and specialist palliative care services developed around the country, it became clear there was need for a single body to speak on behalf of these service providers. National cancer charities joined discussions with the Department of Health and the NHS to decide how to achieve this, and in 1991 we were formed as The National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services. The Council covered England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and around the same time a sister organisation, The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care, was created to perform a similar role for Scotland. Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, was our Honorary Presisdent from inception until her death in 2005.

Changing name, changing direction

By 2004 the healthcare landscape had changed. Specialist palliative care services and hospices were well established around the UK and people with cancer could often access good end of life care. Yet there were other, growing causes of death for which palliative care was unavailable, or hard to reach. People with conditions such as heart failure or dementia had a real need for good palliative care, but more often than not they were denied the care they deserved. After consultation with our subscribers and founding members, we changed our name and our direction, becoming The National Council for Palliative Care (or NCPC), and extending our remit to cover palliative, end of life and hospice care for all people in all settings.

Dying Matters – raising public awareness

In 2008 the government published the End of Life Care Strategy for England, in which NCPC was invited to lead a national coalition to increase public awareness, discussion and debate around dying, death and bereavement. NCPC accepted the challenge and in 2009 the Dying Matters Coalition was born. In a short time the coalition has become established and respected and now boasts over 16,000 members. Whilst the Dying Matters Coalition’s main focus is England, we support and encourage better public awareness across the UK.

NCPC today

NCPC celebrated its 20th birthday in 2011 and is going from strength to strength. We produce a range of publications, leaflets, DVDs, conferences and training programmes to help our subscribers around the country deliver the best levels of care. We work with government, the NHS, the voluntary and private sectors to shape future strategies and plans. We involve patients, carers and families in everything we do to ensure our work is informed by people with real experience.

Into the future

As we look forward to the next 20 years our core aims remain the same – we believe that everyone approaching the end of life has the right to the highest quality care and support, wherever they live, and whatever their condition. The health and social care landscape is changing, with major reforms to the NHS and the way in which local authorities will work. NCPC will remain at the forefront of discussions. We will continue to help and support health and social care professionals and together with the Dying Matters Coalition we will ensure that good end of life care becomes a public priority too.