Published on 20 September 2018

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall today published his report into the developments in end-of-life care in Irish hospitals.  The Ombudsman’s report was jointly launched with the Irish Hospice Foundation and the HSE who published an information booklet for the public: When someone you care about is dying in hospital – What to expect.’   

The Ombudsman’s report, A Good Death: Progress Report, is a follow-up to his 2014 report which described some of the issues raised in complaints his Office received and the impact on dying patients and their loved ones.  The Progress Report highlights the many improvements in the provision of end-of-life care as well as some areas that need further attention. 

Speaking at the joint launch, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said: 

“The welfare and dignity of the dying person and their relatives must be our focus.  It is encouraging to see the considerable progress that has been made in end-of-life care in recent years, through excellent partnership working.  However, there are still some aspects of services that require attention and I look forward to seeing these addressed so that we can, as far as is possible, ensure that people dying in Ireland can do so with dignity, without pain and surrounded by their loved ones.” 

 ‘A Good Death: Progress Report’ is available from the Ombudsman’s website.

The information booklet, When someone you care about is dying in hospital – What to expect, is the direct result of one of the key findings of the 2014 ‘A Good Death’ report citing poor communication as a feature of each complaint received about end-of-life care.  

A joint Irish Hospice Foundation/HSE initiative, the booklet is a new communication resource to support patients and families at such an emotional and challenging time. It offers practical advice on things like coping with changes in the person who is dying, talking about feelings, what to do if someone dies while you are with them, looking after yourself etc. 

The booklet is the work of the joint HSE/Hospice Friendly Hospitals Oversight Committee. Formed in 2017, one of their key priorities is to reduce the variations in end-of-life care received across Ireland.  

43% of people die in hospitals every year. The Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme seeks to ensure that end-of-life, palliative and bereavement care are central to the everyday business of hospitals across Ireland. 

Speaking at the launch, Professor Cillian Twomey, Chair of the HSE/HFH Oversight Committee said:  

“This is the Oversight Committee’s first step to improve public information and reduce variations in end-of-life care across Ireland. It was developed through consultation to provide clear and general information to patients and their families.  As the Ombudsman’s Good Death report continues to highlight poor communication as a feature in complaints received, we hope this booklet will play a role in reducing the gap between the message professionals intended to give and what is understood.” 

Speaking at today’s event Liam Woods, HSE National Director Acute Operations said: 

“End of life care is a very important area for the HSE. Over 11,000 people die in hospital each year and our services and our staff are part of the experience of so many families at this difficult and emotional time. I am very encouraged that the Ombudsman’s second report has shown clear signs of improvement across our hospitals.  

This new information leaflet “When someone you care about is dying in hospital” is intended to provide practical information to families during a challenging and emotional time, and to complement the approach of our staff as they support and assist families. 

The HSE continues to work very closely with a range of partner organisations to improve how we deal with end of life issues and in particular I would like the acknowledge the work of the Irish Hospice Foundation in this area. The Hospice Friendly Hospice Programme, running for over 10 years now with 45 public and private hospitals participating has been a long term support for the HSE. The expertise and support this Programme provides has been invaluable to us and allows us to bring staff together to learn from each other. I am particularly grateful to the group for the work undertaken to produce this new booklet”. 

You can download ‘When someone you care about is dying in hospital – What to expect’ here

Ombudsman report 

The Ombudsman’s report highlights the developments in end-of-life care in Irish hospitals particularly in the areas of communication, specialist care, support for family and friends, and post mortem examinations.  The report is a follow-up to ‘A Good Death’, published in 2014, in which the Ombudsman describes some of the issues raised in complaints his Office received in end-of-life care.  The ‘Progress Report’ highlights significant developments such as: 

  • Design and Dignity projects which have resulted in improvements in the design of hospitals for people at the end of their lives.  Projects include new family rooms (picture attached), bereavement suites and improved mortuaries (see picture attached of Sligo University hospital and Mercy University hospital Cork) 
  • Participation by most hospitals in the Hospice Friendly Hospitals (HFH) programme - an initiative of the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) 
  • The establishment of a joint oversight group by the IHF and the HSE to support the embedding of the HFH programme 
  • A development framework by the HSE to direct the development of adult palliative care 
  • The Compassionate End Of Life Care (CEOL) programme by the IHF to support staff in the residential care sector. 




This is a joint media release from the Office of the Ombudsman, Irish Hospice Foundation and the Health Service Executive. 

Photographs from the launch will be issued later on Thursday morning.  

Note to Editors: 

Hospice Friendly Hospitals 

A programme of the Irish Hospice Foundation 

43% of people who in die every year in Ireland will die in hospital. This programme improves the experience for patients and families. We work closely with hospital staff to ensure end-of-life, palliative and bereavement support is at the heart of their care. There are now 42 Hospice Friendly Hospitals nationwide. For more info, click here.  

The Irish Hospice Foundation 

The Irish Hospice Foundation is the only national charity dedicated to dying, death and bereavement in Ireland. 80 people die every day in Ireland and the IHF believes everyone has the right to be cared for and to die with dignity and respect in their care setting of choice. Its mission is to strive for the best end-of-life care for all. The IHF campaigns to make excellence in hospice practices, bereavement and end-of-life care a national priority and to stimulate the conversation about dying and bereavement in Ireland.