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O-4 A dying discrepancy: the role of the law in palliative care provision
  1. Katherine Murdoch
  1. University of Bristol, Bristol, UK


Background One hundred percent of people die, yet not everyone has a good death. Research and policy shows we understand what facilitates a good death. For example, specialist care will be available, symptoms will be managed and people will die in a place of their choosing. However, not everyone gets to die in their preferred place or even have access to adequate pain relief.

Aims (i) To assess, from a medico-legal and bioethical perspective the provision of palliative care funding in England. (ii) To assess the legal obligation of palliative care provision. (iii) To evaluate the role of new law in palliative care provision.

Methods January-March 2017: Assessment of literature, policy, law and practice. April-September: Evaluation of data to form and write an article on the topic of palliative care provision and the need for change in law.

Results There is an exponentially increasing demand for palliative care, (NHS England, 2014) but palliative care is not yet available to all of the current population. Trusts spend anywhere between £186/death to £6213/death, (Hughes-Hallett, Craft, Davies et al., 2011) resulting in an extreme postcode lottery. Moreover, unlike many other parts of care, palliative care is largely provided by charities. As such, palliative care appears not to be a public funding priority and there appears to be a discrepancy in how palliative care is provided and valued.

Conclusion It is argued that the best way to ensure that everyone has equitable access to dying well and that good deaths are supported is to create a legal obligation. This is assessed by application of Human Rights Law and by enacting the Palliative Care Bill.

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