Health Committee

23 January 2004                                          No. 7, Session 2003-04



The Committee will inquire into the provision of hospice and palliative care by the NHS and by independent services, including the related support services of local authorities and other agencies for both adults and children. The inquiry will examine the extent to which the needs and wishes of patients of different ages are taken into account, including their care choices, ethnicity, cultural and spiritual beliefs. It will address the financing, governance, staffing, locations and quality of palliative care.

In particular the Committee will examine:

  • Issues of choice in the provision, location and timeliness of palliative care services, including support to people in their own homes.

  • Equity in the distribution of provision, both geographical and between different age groups.

  • Communication between clinicians and patients; the balance between people's wishes and those of carers, families and friends; the extent to which service provision meets the needs of different cultures and beliefs.

  • Support services including domiciliary support and personal care .

  • Quality of services and quality assurance.

  • Extent to which services meet the needs of different age groups and different service users.

  • Governance of charitable providers, standards of organisation, links to the NHS and specialist services.

  • Workforce issues including the supply and retention of staff and the quality and adequacy of training programmes.

  • Financing, including the adequacy of NHS and charitable funding and their respective contributions and boundaries.

  • The impact and effectiveness of Government policy including the National Service Frameworks, the Cancer Plan and NICE recommendations

Please note the scope of the inquiry will not extend to issues relating to euthanasia.

Please also note that the Committee cannot examine individual cases.


1. Palliative care is defined by the World Health Organisation as follows:

Palliative care is an approach which improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing life-threatening illness, through the prevention, assessment and treatment of pain and other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems.

2. The House of Lords agreed on 14 January 2004 to establish a committee to consider the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill (HL Bill 17), and further information about the Committee will be available in due course.


Organisations and individuals wishing to submit a short memorandum are invited to do so no later than Friday 27 February.  Late memoranda will only be accepted at the Committee's discretion, and may not be considered for publication. Evidence sessions are likely to commence in March 2004 and a later press notice will give details of these.

A revised guide to preparing written evidence for the Health Committee can be accessed on the Parliamentary Home page.  The Committee requests that evidence should be concise and in the form of a self-contained memorandum, prepared according to the guidelines set out by the terms of reference given above and preferably submitted electronically to .   Please note that the Health Committee is unable to investigate individual cases.

The Health Committee is a Select Committee of the House of Commons.  It is appointed under Standing Order No.152 to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of Health and associated public bodies.  The Committee has the power to send for persons, papers and records.