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Minister Donnelly establishes Steering Group to develop a new Palliative Care Policy for Adults


The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD has established a steering group to develop a new palliative care policy for adults. The group will be chaired by Professor Karen Ryan, a Consultant in palliative care medicine at the Mater Hospital and St. Francis Hospice and Clinical Professor at University College Dublin. 


The Steering Group is comprised of 16 members (in addition to the Chair), consisting of health professionals, patient representatives, representatives of voluntary organisations, senior HSE management and senior departmental officials. In addition, Dr. Bridget Johnston,Trinity College Dublin, will be assisting with the drafting and research for the policy.


Minister Donnelly said: “The 2001 policy was in many ways ahead of its time with its vision for universal access to palliative care and the spirit of collaboration between statutory and voluntary services in providing services. However, there are still areas which need to be improved and changes in both Irish society and healthcare over the past 20 years which the new policy will need to reflect.  


“I’d like to thank the Chair of the Steering Group, Professor Karen Ryan, and all members of the steering group who have agreed to be involved in such an important piece of work. The extensive knowledge and expertise that Professor Ryan has in the area of palliative care will provide invaluable guidance and leadership for the steering group.”   


The inaugural meeting of the steering group took place on Thursday 26 May 2022 at the Department of Health. The new policy will take into account the significant developments and relevant research since the development of the previous policy, the 2001 report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care. The new policy is expected to be published in early 2023.  


ENDS // 


Notes for Editors 



The Steering Group is comprised of the following members: 

  • Mr. Brendan Kennelly, representative from Voices 4 Care Group. 
  • Dr. Brendan O’Shea, representative from the Irish College of General Practitioners. 
  • Dr. Eibhlín Connolly, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.  
  • Dr. Feargal Twomey, National Clinical Lead for Palliative Care.  
  • Mr. Fintan Fagan, representative of the Voluntary Hospice Group. 
  • Ms. Karen Charnley, CEO, All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care. 
  • Professor Karen Ryan, Consultant in Palliative Care Medicine at St. Francis Hospice and the Mater Hospital and Clinical Professor at University College Dublin.  
  • Ms. Marian O’Mahony, representative from Voices 4 Care Group. 
  • Ms. Margaret McMahon, Health and Social Care representative from the Clinical Care Program for Palliative Care.  
  • Ms. Mary Flanagan, representative of the Irish Association of Directors of Nursing and Midwifery (IADNAM). 
  • Mr. Maurice Dillon, National Lead for Palliative Care and Integrated Operations and Planning, HSE.   
  • Ms. Michelle Quinn, Nursing Project Officer in the Chief Nursing Office, Department of Health.  
  • Mr. Paul Rowe, Principal Officer of Older Persons Strategy Unit, Department of Health.   
  • Ms. Sarah Treleaven, Principal Officer of the Sláintecare Citizen Care Masterplan, Department of Health. 
  • Ms. Sharon Foley, CEO, Irish Hospice Foundation. 
  • Dr. Siobhán Ní Bhriain, National Lead of the Integrated Care Programme, HSE.  
  • Ms. Terry Hanan, representative of the Cancer Control Programme, HSE.  


Terms of Reference 

The terms of reference for the steering group are as follows: 

  • To develop a draft adult palliative care policy for the approval of the Minister for Health which will set out a vision and implementation plan for the delivery of palliative care and end of life in Ireland. 
  • Having regard to Sláintecare and the National Clinical Program’s Model of Adult Palliative Care, consider how best to improve access and address gaps in generalist and specialist palliative care to ensure patients and their families receive the right care at the right time in the right place.  
  • Agree appropriate outcome measures and key performance indicators to assess the future effectiveness of the revised policy.  
  • Agree a timebound, task orientated action plan of key priorities, milestones, associated costs and owners.  
  • Agree and detail structures to ensure implementation of the new policy including arrangements for review and evaluation.  
  • Reflect best available evidence and incorporate the relevant learnings from the: 
      • Department of Health public consultation on the update of the adult palliative care policy 
      • External review of the implementation of the 2001 policy 
      • HRB International Evidence Brief of palliative care policy in four high performing jurisdictions.