BMA lobbying

Improving analgesic use to support pain management at the end of life

This briefing focuses on promoting adequate access to pain relief for patients at the end of life, including exploring the attitudes of doctors and patients towards the prescribing of strong analgesics to control pain.

Location: UK
Audience: Public health doctors
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
Topics: Population health
Public Health Article Illustration

What you will get from this briefing

  • A range of recommendations for governments, policy makers and healthcare professionals, with the aim of promoting adequate access to analgesia for patients at the end of life.
  • An exploration of the distinct issues surrounding the potential overuse of analgesics in patients suffering from chronic pain.


Key findings

  • The number of people needing end-of-life care expected to rise over the next 15 years.
  • Access to round the clock pain relief provided by specialist palliative care teams is patchy across the UK.
  • Patients with non-cancer terminal illnesses are likely to experience poorer access to adequate pain relief than cancer patients, and are less likely to receive palliative care.


  • Background
  • Introduction
  • Analgesics use in palliative care
  • Barriers to accessing appropriate pain relief at the end of life
  • Developing effective services to support analgesic prescribing at the end of life
  • Education and training to support pain relief at the end of life
  • Supporting appropriate analgesic use in specific patient populations
  • Conclusion and summary of recommendations
  • Summary of analgesic drugs
  • Palliative care strategies in the UK