Royal Trinity Hospice, a leading provider of end of life care in London, has welcomed new guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which set out how to give people the best possible care at the end of their lives. However the charity warns that without enabling people to have earlier discussions about their wishes for the end of life, nurses and doctors caring for dying people will remain unable to provide the best possible care for every patient.

The NICE guidelines follow the abolition of the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway, a protocol for looking after people at the end of life. This was phased out last year after a government-commissioned review found serious failings in how the pathway was being implemented and recommended it was replaced with individualized care plans for dying people.

Dr Sam Lund, Medical Director at Trinity, said, “At the heart of quality end of life care is providing care which takes into account individual needs and wishes. However at the hospice we see time and time again people who have not thought about what kind of care they would like at the end of life or even where they want to be when they die. Many are no longer able to express their wishes leaving these crucial decisions for others to take.

All doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals need training to equip them with the skills to initiate difficult conversations at an earlier stage and to support them to implement the guidelines in practice.”

Talking about death and dying remains a taboo in British society. A poll earlier this year found that more than two-thirds of the population believe people in the UK feel too uncomfortable about death and dying to plan properly. While a third of people think about death and dying at least once a week, the vast majority fail to set down their wishes for end-of-life care, make wills, register for organ donation or organise life insurance.

If you would like more information about Trinity's response to the new guidelines, please contact the press office:

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