NEW plans to improve end-of-life care for terminally ill patients and their families in Wales must be backed by stronger links between the NHS and the charitable and voluntary sector, says a Gwent hospice chief.

Support for terminally ill patients wishing to be cared for and die at home is at the heart of the Together for Health – Delivering End of Life Care proposals, published for a threemonth consultation by the Welsh Government.

Emma Saysell, chief executive of St David’s Foundation Hospice Care and chairwoman of Hospices Cymru, said it shows a commitment to improvement.

“People with life-limiting illnesses have a right to receive the best possible care,” she said.

“Thanks to local charitable hospices across Wales, more than 5,500 patients every year, as well as many more friends and family members, receive high-quality care.

“It is centred on the patient experience and tailored to their individual needs.

“We have a major challenge ahead to ensure people in Wales with life-limiting or terminal conditions receive the best possible care, irrespective of where they choose to be cared for, where they live, or what condition they have.”

The proposals set out how NHS Wales will improve end-oflife care up to 2016.

Key aims include providing 24/7 support to all people entering the terminal phase of illness, ensuring pain and symptoms are controlled and ensuring access to appropriate support and symptom control, is the same wherever a person dies – home, hospital, care home, or hospice.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board is pioneering a range of end-oflife projects through a wider palliative care programme.

These include a fast-track hospital discharge service for those at the very end of life who wish to die at home, and advance care planning with patients to determine early the details of issues such as preferred place of care and death, and resuscitation status.