Don’t let the plan run out for dying people in Wales

Image by SharonMcCutcheon on Pixabay
ViewsMarch 28th, 2022

End of life care should be given the same priority as care and support, says Bethan Edwards, Policy & Public Affairs Manager of Marie Curie Wales. 


Dying, death, and bereavement have been at the forefront of the nation’s attention over the last two years, with over 70,000 people having died in Wales throughout the pandemic, and an estimated 600,000 people left bereaved

Covid-19 has meant that thinking about end of life – whether a loved one’s or our own – has become inescapable for many of us. Albeit in unfortunate circumstances, more of us are coming to realise the importance and value of planning for end of life. Newly published findings from research led by the Marie Curie Research Centre, Cardiff University, reveals that 80% of people across Wales think that end of life care should be given equal priority in the NHS as care for people in any other stage of life.

With that backing, Marie Curie and Motor Neurone Disease Association are urging people to sign a petition calling on the Welsh Government to stick to its commitment of publishing a replacement to the current End of Life Care Delivery Plan, which comes to an end this month.

National plans 

Health boards across Wales are required to deliver palliative and end of life care and support in line with the End of Life Care Delivery Plan. End of life services will still be commissioned and delivered when this plan comes to an end, but without a national plan to take its place, we risk losing the strategic focus and decade of progress that has been made. 

As well as their commitment to a replacement plan, the Welsh Government confirmed a new dedicated End of Life Care Programme. It was a delight to see such focus being given to end of life care in a way that has not been seen before. However, to reach its full potential this Programme needs to include a clear implementation/action plan, an ambitious timetable, sustainable funding, and sufficient staff to enable its delivery. 

Usually, around 34,000 people die in Wales each year and at least 75% would benefit from some form of palliative and end of life care. For many reasons however, 25% of these people will not have access to the care and support that they need to die well. This leads to people dying in pain, without the support they need, and their preferences and wishes at end of life going unfulfilled. This not only impacts the person who is dying, but the loved ones left behind. 

What should be done? 

A replacement to the End of Life Care Delivery Plan and an overarching Programme is an opportunity to ensure that end of life care is given the same priority as care and support at any other phase of one’s life. It is a chance for Welsh Government to provide the bold leadership needed to drive real improvements in how we plan and deliver end of life care and it is a positive step towards everyone in Wales having the end of life experience they want.

1 Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional – Office for National Statistics (

2 It is estimated that each death leaves approximately 9 people bereaved. Verdery, A.M. et al., 2020. Tracking the reach of COVID-19 kin loss with a bereavement multiplier applied to the United States. PNAS, 117(30). Based on ONS stats above, we can therefore estimate that 800,000 people have been left bereaved in Wales.

3 Marie Curie, 2015. Triggers for palliative care Improving access to care for people with diseases other than cancer

4 Dixon, J., King, D., Matosevic, T., Clark, M., and Knapp, M., 2015. ‘Equity in the Provision of Palliative Care in the UK: Review of Evidence’, Personal Social Services Research Unit London School of Economics and Political Science

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