The corridors buzzed with the voices of delegates from all over Europe and the rest of the world as old friends greeted each other and new collaborators were introduced.
The market place was set up overlooking the spires and rooftops of the old city. The shared ehospice, WPCA and ICPCN stand was a meeting place for global leaders in palliative care.
Leena Peltari of Austria, and Ros Scott of the UK led a group of hospice volunteers in an all day workshop culminating in the formation of the EAPC taskforce: ‘Hospce Volunteering.’ Professor Lukas Radbruch, speaking at the opening ceremony, praised the formation of this new task force, reminding delegates of the need to draw on this valuable resource that palliative care professionals have by their side.
A day of pre-conference workshops preceded the opening ceremony. Topics ranged from spirituality in palliative care and using social media for palliative care advocacy, to developing legal services for palliative care patients and many more. The full programme can be downloaded from the conference website.
The conference was opened by Prof Radbruch, as chair of the scientific committee, Dr Ladislav Kabela, chair of the organising committee, and Professor Shelia Payne, the president of the EAPC.
Dr Leos Heger, the Minister of Health of the Czech Republic, addressed the delegates. The Minister affirmed his support for palliative care and expressed his hopes for the conference. He said: “Some of (the delegates’) attention will in particular be directed at legislation related to the providing of palliative care. This will undoubtedly contribute to a greater ability of the healthcare system to respect people’s right to access palliative care services and the greater availability of such palliative care within different countries and different culture under different healthcare systems.”
He went on to call for the spreading of measures or indicators of the quality of palliative care as a result of the conference.
Dr Heger accepted the signed Prague Charter from Dr Ladislav Kabela. He assured delegates that this document would travel with him to be presented to the next meeting of the European parliament.
Prof Payne announced the presentation of the EAPC award to Dr Derek Doyle, one of the founding members of the EAPC. Delegates watched a video recording of Dr Doyle’s acceptance speech in which he remembered the early days of palliative care in Europe and reflected on how the field has developed between then and now. Dr Doyle reminded all listening that palliative care is not just another branch of medicine, but is an integral part of all care, and that: “Being there is what matters.”