On 23rd October 2015 the House of Lords debated the Access to Palliative Care Bill, a private member’s bill tabled by crossbench peer Baroness Finlay of Llandaff. The Bill sought to, in her words,
“ensure that wherever a dying person is, whatever the time of day or night, whatever day of the week, they can receive high-standard care… It would do so by ensuring that commissioners commission a level of service for their populations to meet need…My Bill would ensure co-ordination so that help is accessible, efficient and can meet needs.”
The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, who is also lead bishop on healthcare for the Church of England, spoke supportively in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I declare an interest as a fairly active patron of Eden Valley Hospice in Cumbria and of Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland. They work together to provide outstanding end-of-life care for people in the community as well as for those in a hospice bed. Like so many others, I am also most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for initiating this significant Bill. Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle supports new Bill on access to palliative care”
On 22nd October 2015 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke during a House of Lords debate tabled by Lord Farmer “To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report Dying Without Dignity, what steps they are taking to ensure that everyone who needs it has access to good palliative care and a level of social care that ensures the end of life is valued.” The Bishop, the Church’s lead bishop for prisons, spoke about the need to improve end of life care for those in prison.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Suri, is not able to be present for this discussion, but I promise not to extend my contribution by the minutes thereby freed. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, for initiating this debate, and I apologise that I am not going to touch on matters that are directly to do with spirituality. I shall leave that to those who have done so—my right reverend friend and others—because I want to focus on one particular aspect of end-of-life care: what goes on in Her Majesty’s prisons, for which I am bishop. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester calls for better end of life care services in prison”
On 22nd October 2015 Lord Farmer asked Her Majesty’s Government, “in the light of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report Dying Without Dignity, what steps they are taking to ensure that everyone who needs it has access to good palliative care and a level of social care that ensures the end of life is valued.” The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, spoke in the debate, praising the work of chaplains and volunteers in delivering end of life care. The Bishop of Rochester also spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, today’s debate, for which I am also most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, has prompted me to take a fresh look at some of the numerous documents on palliative care that have been produced over the past two years, including of course the ombudsman’s report, Dying Without Dignity. As I read the documents, I was struck and impressed by their general agreement that palliative care at the end of life involves more than simply the relief of physical pain, crucial though of course that is. Suffering is not always the same as pain and it is often more difficult to ease, which is why the word “holistic” is often used to describe the kind of care that is needed. I cite as an example the NICE quality standard which is regarded by NHS England as,
“a comprehensive picture of what high quality end of life care should look like”.
In particular, as we have been reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, reference is made to spiritual and religious support not only for patients but for relatives, carers and staff. Such support is an essential element in end of life care. Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle praises work of chaplains and volunteers in end of life care”
On the 8th of July 2015 the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, received two written answers to questions about the future of hospital chaplaincy and palliative care.
Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol asks Government about palliative care and the future of hospital chaplaincy”
On 23rd June 2015 Lord Farmer asked Her Majesty’s Government “in the light of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report Dying Without Dignity, what steps they are taking to ensure that everyone in need has access to good palliative care.” The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Mike Hill, asked a further question about chaplaincy.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, given that both NICE and NHS England have commended the services of spiritual, pastoral and religious care in the care of all people and in delivering great services to patients, clients and staff, can the Minister give us any assurances that a chaplaincy will be funded, going forward, in all NHS facilities that provide palliative care?
Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol asks Government about chaplaincy and palliative care”
“what will we be heard to be saying about the worthwhileness of life under certain conditions? Do we, by legally accommodating the mental suffering of some, debase the currency for all? These are not trivial considerations; nor are they parochially religious ones.” – Rowan Williams, 12/5/06
On 12th May 2006 the House of Lords debated a Private Members’ Bill from Lord Joffe: the ‘Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill’. The then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was one of three Lords Spiritual who spoke against, in a debate that lasted over seven hours and featured 90 speakers.
The Bill would have allowed a doctor to prescribe medication upon request from a terminally ill patient with capacity, so that by means of self-administration, that patient could end his or her life.
Following the debate a vote took place on whether to allow the Bill to proceed any further. Peers voted to not allow it to proceed by 148 to 100. 14 Lords Spiritual joined those voting against the Bill.
A transcript of the Archbishop’s speech follows:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, opposition to the principle of this Bill is not confined to people of religious conviction—as we have been reminded by the noble, monotheistic and utilitarian Lord, Lord Carlile—and it would be a lazy counter-argument to suggest that such opposition can be written off because it comes only from those committed to a world view not universally shared. It is worth remembering that the secular or “enlightened” view of human autonomy assumed by many of the Bill’s defenders is no less a particular world view rather than a self-evident and universal truth. Continue reading “Archive speeches: Rowan Williams on Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill”