Palliative care and policy in England: a review of health improvement plans for 1999–2003

Seymour, J; Clark, D; Marples, R
January 2002
Palliative Medicine;Jan2002, Vol. 16 Issue 1, p5
Academic Journal
Since 1987 health authorities in England have been required to make plans for palliative care provision, but their record in doing so has been patchy. The production of health improvement plans (HImPs), in which each health authority must set out its priorities and actions designed to improve the health and well-being of its local population, provides an opportunity to examine the extent to which palliative care provision in the NHS is regarded as a priority by policy makers in England. This paper reports on a structured documentary review of the HImPs published by the 99 health authorities in England. The review indicates that at the moment, in spite of the longstanding duty placed on health authorities to develop strategic plans for palliative care and to assess the level of local palliative care needs, not all have made significant progress in this direction. Among those that do have plans for palliative care, the vast majority of these plans are for people with cancer. What emerges most clearly is a sense in which specialist palliative care, especially for non-cancer patients, is perceived as an 'optional extra' by many health authorities rather than an integral and essential part of the overall supportive care strategy which they clearly are at pains to develop.


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