Royal Trinity Hospice launched its inaugural William Hoare lecture this week as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations. Held in the House of Lords overlooking the Thames, the event was sponsored by Trinity patron the Bishop of Southwark and delivered by Professor the Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, who is most well-known for taking the Access to Palliative Care Bill through Parliament.  The theme of the event was how the NHS and hospice providers can work more collaboratively to improve end of life care in a challenging health and social care environment.

Speaking at the event, the Baroness encouraged the audience to do more to achieve 24/7 palliative care services, ensuring support is there when people need it “at 2am, on Christmas Eve” if that is what is required. She reinforced the importance of keeping children and schools informed when a relative is dying, highlighting the consequences of not supporting children include higher risk of abuse and depression. She encouraged everyone to talk more and plan for death, echoing calls from the Dying Matters campaign. Finally, the Baroness reflected on the Assisted Dying debate, arguing that difficulties in predicting when someone will die, assessing mental capacity and identifying abuse among families would make any change in the law in the UK very challenging.

The event was named after Colonel William Hoare, who raised the funds required to found the original Royal Trinity Hospice in 1891. A direct descendant, our patron Alexander Hoare, was in the audience.  Also in attendance were over 70 leading figures from hospices, hospitals, commissioning, politics, and the private sector as well as people with first-hand experience of palliative care services.

Derek Wyatt, Chair of Royal Trinity Hospice and a former MP, said, “The idea I had behind instigating our inaugural annual lecture was to establish in the Hospice calendar a space for those in end of life care to come together and hear an expert talk about some of the issues facing us all. There was really only one person to ask to kick start the series which was the irrepressible Baroness Ilora Finlay and she did not disappoint.”

The lecture is part of an exciting year for Royal Trinity Hospice. As part of its 125th anniversary celebrations, Trinity aims to raise an additional £3.5million to open a new Royal Trinity Centre. The Centre will provide more services within easier reach for people with progressive, life-limiting illnesses and their families in the north part of Trinity’s catchment area. It will also host a café and information centre, providing a safe space for everyone to contemplate, talk about and plan for death.