People are living longer, but with increasingly complex health problems; this, together with the need to take account of patients' preferences, highlights the importance of end-of life care and the increasing investment that will be required in this area of care.
The current financial crisis and the reform of the health service should not be allowed to distract from the need for innovation and improvement in the quality of end-of-life care. Indeed, such changes could also promote efficiency savings as well as improve quality.
The publication in 2008 of the (then) government's End of Life Care Strategy radically raised the profile of the issue. The strategy set out a clear pathway to guide commissioners towards service improvement, suggesting areas on which to focus their efforts. However, many commissioners and service providers are still struggling to implement the strategy and to deliver innovative models of care within the current financial constraints.
Implementing the End of Life Care Strategy: lessons for good practice is aimed at those responsible for commissioning and organising end-of-life care services at a local level. The paper uses evidence from The King's Fund's evaluation of the Marie Curie Delivering Choice Programme to highlight examples of good practice and learning for the organisation and delivery of end-of-life care across England. It provides guidance on the delivery options and ongoing challenges in the organisation of end-of-life care that can be implemented or adapted to suit local contexts of care. Many of the lessons that are presented in this paper will also provide a valuable resource for those involved in the quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QIPP) agenda.