The Department of Health has announced that NHS England plans to support an exciting new approach to the care of people with serious illnesses.
July 5, 2016

The Serious Illness Care Programme UK will see doctors having structured, meaningful conversations to identify a patient’s goals and priorities during their illness. Care will then be tailored to meet the patient’s needs and wishes and so that, as far as possible, the patient can live their life the way they want to.

The programme is led by The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Merseyside, with input from Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool and Ariadne Labs in Boston, USA – which pioneered the approach in the US.

Consultant oncologists at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre are being trained to have the conversations with suitable patients in Merseyside and Cheshire.

Now NHS England is funding a one-year pilot to enable GPs in Airedale in Yorkshire and Southend in Essex to be fully trained and use the conversations with their patients, as well as the Clatterbridge consultants. 

The GPs will be trained in late 2016 and will then begin having conversations with suitable patients. The pilot will be carefully monitored and evaluated to determine whether patients feel it benefits them.

The evidence from the USA, where the programme has been used for some time, has found that 86 per cent of patients feel they benefit and 90 per cent of doctors have changed their everyday practice to ensure they have structured conversations about the patient’s goals and priorities.


Department of Health news release (link to

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