Can ‘prudent healthcare’ empower terminally ill people in Wales?

by Natasha Wynne
Policy and Public Affairs Assistant, Wales


Mark Drakeford, Welsh Assembly Member and Health Minister, has set out new vision for healthcare in Wales. Speaking at the Welsh NHS Confederation’s conference on 16 January, Professor Drakeford argued that ‘prudent healthcare’ was central to the future of the NHS in Wales.

According to Prof Drakeford, prudent healthcare follows a principle of minimum appropriate intervention. This means that wasteful interventions, which are clinically shown not to benefit a patient, should be avoided. It also provides a basis for enabling patients to play a more active role in deciding their own care, with services shifting out of hospitals and into communities and homes.

This call for change was echoed in a discussion paper From Rhetoric to Reality – NHS Wales in ten years’ time, which was also launched at the conference.

So what does this mean for terminally ill people in Wales?

A recurring theme at the conference was the need to break down barriers and find new ways of working together to give people the healthcare they want.

This message resonates with Marie Curie’s mission to ensure that people can die in the place of their choice. We know that more than 60% of people with a terminal illness want to die in the comfort of their own homes, surrounded by the people they love. Marie Curie makes this possible, by providing free nursing care and support for carers.

A study by the Nuffield Trust found that those who used our nursing service were significantly more likely to die at home, in line with their preferences. As well as helping patients fulfill their wishes, this saves money and frees up hospital beds. At the same time, we are working with organisations like the Royal College of GPs, to support better care for terminally ill patients in the community.

Marie Curie welcomes the Welsh NHS Confederation’s call to work together to “harness the creative and compassionate power of communities, individuals and service providers across all sectors”. We are yet to see where the new conversations initiated at the conference will take us. But recognising that the future of healthcare is everybody’s business seems like a good place to start.