Professor Baroness Finlay of Llandaff receives Honorary Doctorate


Professor Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, has today (Monday, July 9) been awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Science) by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.


Ilora Finlay is Honorary Professor of Palliative Medicine at Cardiff University.  She was the first consultant in Palliative Medicine in Wales in 1987, working with Marie Curie Cancer Care to set up the hospice in Penarth, and has developed palliative and hospice services across Wales.  She is now a National Vice-President of Marie Curie and of Hospice UK, supporting open conversations about Death and Dying through Byw Nawr in Wales.

In 1989 she established the Diploma in Palliative Medicine which led to MSc distance learning courses and e-learning in palliative care at Cardiff University. These courses are internationally renowned.  Around 2000 senior clinicians worldwide have graduated for Cardiff, many becoming international leaders in palliative care in their own countries, with teaching links to India, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa.  Baroness Finlay has been President of the Medical Women’s Federation, President of the British Medical Association, and President of the Royal Society of Medicine and is President of the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy.

She also chaired the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland,  established its ethics committee during her three-year tenure, has served on the BMA ethics committee for many years and now holds the UK branch UNESCO chair in Bioethics.

She led implementation of the Palliative Care Strategy in Wales from 2008-17, changing palliative care services across Wales to ensure 7-day working by specialist teams with consultant advice available 24/7. She is determined to ensure that the patient experience influences strategy and that professionals listen to patients more.  To enhance this, she introduced iWantGreatCare as a dynamic tool to ask each patient to evaluate the service they receive from specialist palliative care teams across Wales.

On presenting to the congregation Professor Wendy Deering said:

“It’s a great honour for me to present to you today Professor Baroness Finlay of Llandaff.  If ever there was an inspiration to our new graduates then its Ilora.  In summary she’s a Welsh doctor, a professor of Palliative medicine, an independent cross bench member of the House of Lords, a wife, a mother and a grandmother and was named Welsh woman of the year in 1996.  An incredible lady with an inspirational career for us all to reflect on.”

On receiving the award at the ceremony Professor Baroness Finlay of Llandaff said:

“Thank you for the honour of this Honorary Degree.  You’ve all made a fantastic choice, you’ve chosen to educate yourselves.  You’ve chosen to make much more of your lives.  I hope that lots of doors will open for you and I hope that every one of you will be in a position that you can say that you’ve outstripped your teachers because that’s the biggest complement a student can give to their teacher.  If the teacher sees the student do better than   themselves, that’ the most wonderful thing.” 

Wales has been the most amazing place for me and along with saying thank you today I want to say thank you to Wales.  It’s a huge honour to have this degree today.”

In 2015 she was appointed by the Ministry of Justice and Department of Health Ministers to chair the National Mental Capacity Forum, to improve implementation of the Mental Capacity Act across all sectors in England and Wales.  She has brought together services from health, social care, research, finance, legal and other sectors to improve the support to those with impaired capacity.

Since her elevation to a Peerage in 2001, she has been actively involved in debates and amending legislation on many health issues, particularly control of tobacco and alcohol abuse and sunbeds.  She has also led discussion about organ donation opt-out schemes in Westminster, in parallel with Wales’ legislation. 

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