The importance of palliative care as a comprehensive approach,
with the potential to complete and improve existing care programmes,
is now recognised in many of the Council of Europe’s member states.
Palliative care is a substantial and socially innovative addition
to curative, highly scientific medicine, where subjective well-being
of the patient comes after the goal of curing an illness and which
involves therapy-related restrictions and sometimes massive side-effects.
The report endeavours to highlight the central problem of
the highly sophisticated and costly health care provided particularly
in western Europe, which, at ever shorter intervals, produces new
medical techniques and medicines, raising high public expectations
of curative success. At the same time, however, this type of health care
is increasingly – and obviously – failing to meet the basic needs
of people suffering from chronic or rare diseases.
The rapporteur considers palliative care as a model for innovative
health and social policies. Palliative care does not simply meet
a cultural and humanitarian need of the most pressing kind. It also
provides an innovative structure which, if intelligently developed,
will not only produce sustainable change in the health sector, but
may also serve as a recipe for success in other policy areas with
serious, systemic and recurrent problems (for example, drug prevention).
The rapporteur therefore regards palliative care as an essential
component of appropriate health care based on a humane concept of
human dignity, autonomy, human rights, patient rights and a generally
acknowledged perception of solidarity and social cohesion.
The report advocates a wide-ranging discussion in society
on the priorities of health care based on sensible health objectives
and on the fundamental rights of the patients. These objectives
must not be left to competition between lobby groups, as the protection
of fundamental rights is a government task and not a matter for pressure