The Government has said it will make access to palliative care a legal right for the terminally ill under its Health and Care Bill.
Backing an amendment tabled by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, the Government will require NHS England to provide specialist palliative care in every part of the country.
Lady Finlay, who is Professor of Palliative Medicine at Cardiff University and a Vice President of Hospice UK, is a strong opponent of legalising assisted suicide.
The Peer told The Times: “This change is incredibly important. For the first time the NHS will be required to make sure that there are services to meet the palliative care needs of everyone for whom they have responsibility in an area.
one of the biggest developments in end-of-life care since the inception of the NHS
“People need help early, when they need it, seven days a week — disease does not respect the clock or the calendar.”
Marie Curie’s Chief Executive Matthew Reed welcomed the announcement as “one of the biggest developments in end-of-life care since the inception of the NHS”.
The charity has reported that the number of people “dying with a palliative care need” is “projected to increase by up to 42%” in the next twenty years.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Health and Social Care said: “Palliative care is essential to support people at the end of their lives, which is why we have tabled an amendment to make clear that integrated care boards are responsible for commissioning palliative and end-of-life care services.
“We pay tribute to the campaigning work of Baroness Finlay on this subject over many years, and are grateful for her collaboration on this issue.”
The Health and Care Bill is at Report Stage in the House of Lords, which is scheduled to complete next week.
Lord Forsyth has tabled a controversial amendment aimed at requiring the Government to introduce a Bill that would enable terminally ill adults to get medical help to kill themselves.