The issue of unequal access to palliative care for people living with terminal conditions other than  cancer will be discussed at a conference in Belfast today. 

Terminal illness charity Marie Curie is bringing together experts from Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and the University of York to discuss the palliative care needs of people with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure and Motor Neurone Disease (MND). 

Currently, two thirds of people Marie Curie Nurses support have terminal cancer – meaning around a third, just 33%, have other terminal conditions. Marie Curie wants to raise awareness of the benefits of palliative care for non-cancer terminal illnesses and the barriers that can prevent people with conditions other than cancer from accessing the care and support they need.   

Joan McEwan, Head of Policy and Public Affairs Northern Ireland at Marie Curie said:"Everyone should have the right to high-quality palliative care when they have a terminal illness, but evidence suggests there are unique barriers preventing people with conditions other than cancer from getting the care and support they need.

"These can include under-developed links between condition specialists and palliative care specialists, lack of understanding of what palliative care can achieve for patients with non-cancer conditions, and the unpredictable trajectories of some non-cancer conditions, which can make it difficult to know when to initiate palliative care.

"All service providers need to work together to address these barriers and ensure everyone living with a terminal illness in Northern Ireland has access to high quality care and support when they need it."