Party conference road trip - how Marie Curie staked a claim for end of life care

by Phil McCarvill
Head of Policy & Public Affairs


Over the past few weeks, Marie Curie attended the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat party conferences in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. We talked to politicians and party members about our work, and won support for the joint manifesto we recently produced with colleagues from other major charities.

Currently, the political parties are preparing their own manifestos for the general election in May 2015, so these conferences provided a great opportunity to try and ensure that each party committed to better support for terminally ill people and their families in the next Parliament.

Lively debates

At each of the conferences, Marie Curie hosted a fringe event with Age UK called, “Are politicians preventing the modernisation of health and social care?” These events were supported by speakers from the King’s Fund and the Foundation Trust Network and were chaired by David Brindle from the Guardian. Key politicians also spoke at each of the events: Liberal Democrat care minister Norman Lamb MP, the Conservative chair of the Health Select Committee Sarah Wollaston MP and Debbie Abrahams MP from Labour’s Health Team. Each set out their respective party’s perspective on the topic.

All of the fringe events were well attended and sparked lively debates about a range of issues, including the future of health and social care and ideas around what each of the political parties can do to improve the situation.

A manifesto for end of life care

We also received support for some of our manifesto calls at the Labour and Liberal Democrat conferences.  During his conference speech, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP committed to offering the right for people living with terminally illnesses to be cared for at home, and for three months free social care at the end of life. At the Liberal Democrat conference, the party passed a motion supporting the provision of free social care to anyone on an end of life care register.  This was voted for by party members and may therefore become official policy for the Liberal Democrats.

End of life care being mentioned and discussed as part of party conferences is a very significant step as it demonstrates that the parties are thinking about end of life care and the needs of terminally ill people. We will continue our work to ensure that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats deliver on their commitments and to encourage the Conservative party to follow suit and include similar calls in its own manifesto.

Read more about the joint manifesto