Economics of palliative care: from international evidence to Irish policy

Palliative care is specialised care for people with serious and complex illness. Its goal is to improve quality of life for patients and families, and studies show that it generally achieves this goal. Palliative care access is strong in Ireland by international standards but there are still significant gaps in services and provision. Recent Government policies have suggested expanding palliative care provision to ensure universal access to all those who need it nationwide. Ireland would be the first country to take this step, and before doing so the Government and other stakeholders need to understand the expected costs: What would it cost to provide these new services? How would the new services impact use of other health care and of informal care from family and friends? How would these costs and cost-effects change over time as the population ages? Evidence to answer these questions is hard to come by. Care for people with serious and life-limiting illness is very challenging to study due to their difficult circumstances, yet it is essential that appropriate care is provided to those with complex and severe needs. Using the best available data in Ireland and internationally, this study aims to estimate the costs of providing universal palliative care in Ireland, as well as the effect this provision would have on the overall health system and informal care and supports. It aims to make these estimates both in the short run and into the future as the population ages and palliative care needs grow. The information gathered from this exercise would directly inform the Department of Health as they consider if and how to move to this new universal provision. It would also form the basis for future enquiries into how the Irish health services organises and finances care for serious illness.

Award Date
27 September 2018
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Peter May
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Applying Research into Policy & Practice Postdoctoral Fellowships