European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care

This eight week distance learning programme has been commissioned by the Department of Health for registered nurses working in clinical practice, who are new to specialist palliative care or who regularly look after people who have palliative care needs. Due to the current pressures on the Health and Social Care Trusts this course has been postponed until Summer 2021.

This programme is provided by Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, however Northern Ireland Hospice is one of the sites where candidates can choose to sit the Assessment day.

This course is currently only open to registered nurses with a commissioned place from the Department of Health Northern Ireland.

Programme Dates

To be confirmed.


The course is divided into five sections, each covering different aspects of essential palliative care:

  • caring for patients with pain
  • palliative care and the gastroinstestinal system
  • breaking bad news and ethical issues
  • clinical emergencies in palliative care and palliative care in non-malignant disease
  • last 48hrs of life: practical issues and bereavement.

Entry Requirements

Participants on this course must be a registered nurse and working in a Health & Social Care Trust setting eg, an acute hospital or community team. 

Possession of a relevant professional healthcare qualification.

Working in a suitable practice setting, caring for patients requiring palliative care.

Recommended approx 50 hours of home study during the eight week course.

Attendance at the remote assessment day (last day of course).

Access to email and Zoom.

As this is an intense course over an 8 week period we highly recommend that candidates avoid lengthy holidays or other large projects/ commitments during the course dates.

Here's what past candidates thought of the course:

"Really enjoyed the course.  Feel that a shorter more compact version of the course manual would be useful for undergraduate medical students".


"Excellent.  I have greatly benefited from having done this course".


"Examiners made me feel totally at ease and comfortable".


"Excellent course, reading material".


"Has really helped to give me confidence in dealing with palliative care in the hospital setting, thank you".

European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care Flyer