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Good palliative care 'vital' for end of life

23rd October 2006

A pain support charity has said that good palliative care can reduce the desire for assisted suicide.

Following a report from the Patients Association that found access to pain relief could be improved for patients over the age of 65, the chairperson of Pain Concern, Heather Wallace, has said that good pain management is vital for a good quality of life in older people.

However, this is not yet funded everywhere on the National Health Service.

She said that an improvement in palliative care would lead to fewer calls for an assisted suicide bill.

"You have got to give people a chance to see whether they can achieve a quality of life despite their illness," said Ms Wallace.

"I wouldn't go so far as to say that assisted suicide is never appropriate but I would say it was wrong to be advancing that case unless you really have symptom control made a property on the NHS."

Palliative care is the "active holistic care of patients" who have advanced and worsening illness, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

Nice adds that the management of pain and other symptoms is paramount for this kind of care, as is the provision of psychological, social and spiritual support.