Latest report on palliative care in Europe

The Council of Europe has launched its latest report on palliative care in Europe. The report provides an update to the 2009 resolution 1649, ‘’Palliative care: a model for innovative health and social policies’’, on the current trends in palliative care models and highlights critical issues that may be of specific interest to all elected European parliamentarians. It expresses regret that much of the 2003 (24) Council of Ministers’ recommendations on palliative care remain unaddressed with continuing lack of access to pain management and palliative care services across European Union states.

Summary

Palliative care aims at improving the quality of life of both patients and their families, by addressing not only the physical symptoms associated with the patient’s condition, but also its emotional, psychological, spiritual, social and economic repercussions. Palliative care is thus fundamental to human dignity and should be available to all persons who need it. In Europe, hundreds of thousands of people do not have access to appropriate palliative care services, including, in particular, access to appropriate pain relief. Consequently, patients and families suffer needlessly, while health-care systems are put under additional strain due to unnecessary and costly hospital admissions and emergency services. Informal caregivers play a crucial role in palliative care provision and should be adequately supported in this role. With a view to ensuring access to quality palliative care for everyone who needs it, member States should recognise palliative care as a human right and fully integrate it into their health-care system. They should remove all obstacles that restrict access to pain-relieving medication in the context of palliative care, and ensure adequate training on palliative care for health-care professionals. They should also provide comprehensive support for informal caregivers, including respite services.

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