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Putting Personal Experience First - Tony Bonser speaks at End of Life Care

Tony Bonser, Chair of People in Partnership at the National Council for Palliative Care & Dying Matters & Member, Baroness Neuberger's Independent Revie Panel on the Liverpool Care Pathway opened todays conference with a powerful presentation on putting personal experience first.

Following the death of their son, Neil in 2009, Tony and his wife Dorothy became fund-raisers for Macmillan Cancer Support, being awarded the Douglas Macmillan Volunteer Award in 2012, and members of the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) and the Dying Matters Coalition. They are now North West Local Champions for Dying Matters.

Tony is a trustee of NCPC, for whom he chairs the People in Partnership Group. He speaks and writes on end of life care issues, and campaigns for better communication between professionals and patients. He is quoted in various books on End of Life Care, and in recent reports from Macmillan Cancer Support and the Royal College of Physicians. He has broadcast on local and national radio and has appeared on Granada Reports and BBC Breakfast, talking about EoLC issues. He is a member of the Independent Review Panel for the Liverpool Care Pathway, and of both the Voices and the “Find your 1%” initiatives.

He is currently co-writing a Peer-education programme for spiritual support for those approaching the end of life, their carers and those bereaved, and delivered workshops on this subject in Summer 2014 for the Northern New England School of Religious Education. He has worked with Help the Hospices to develop a view of the role of hospices in the future.

Both he and Dorothy work as volunteers for their local hospice, where he is a trustee. Both are driven by a desire to validate Neil’s life and death by working for better end of life care.


Patients are people too. I am involved on EoLC because of my personal experience caring for my son during his terminal illness. I dream we can work towards a system of fully integrated, holistic care for those near death. This will involve a culture-change in the relationship between medical professionals and patients/carers, in line with the patient-centred philosophy embodied in the NHS Constitution, and with the recommendations of the Francis Report, the Neuberger Report, and “One Chance to Get it Right, “seeing patient and professional in a partnership, defining and meeting the perceived needs of the patient. Communication will be central to this development. This will involve professionals and patients evolving a common language comprehensible to both, and an atmosphere in which patients and carers feel empowered to become involved in the decision-making process, and thus to take back some control of their condition and its management. This will require sensitivity on the part of the professionals as to the emotional effects of their discussions on patients, and an understanding that everyone is an individual, with specific and personal needs, and that “one size fits all,” will not meet their needs.


You know what you have said – but you don’t know what I’ve heard.

Don’t talk to the patient – talk to the dancer

Person-centred, goal- oriented care

It’s your choice

Improving End of Life Care
Wednesday 10 December
Manchester Conference Centre

Scroll to bottom for Tony's Slides


15 September 2014


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