To put Council's project on improving access to hospice and specialist palliative care services by members of the black and minority ethnic communities into context, palliative care will be defined, and the scope of palliative care services currently available in the UK outlined. Palliative care is the active total care of patients whose disease no longer responds to curative treatment. It is provided through a network of home-care, day-care, hospital support and hospital or hospice based in-patient services. These services are accessed mainly through GPs or hospital consultants and the extent to which people are referred depends on the knowledge of hospital consultants and GPs, and their perception of the value of the palliative care service to their patients. Council's project on improving access was supported by Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund and Help the Hospices as well as receiving a grant from the NHS Ethnic Minorities Unit. The report describes how the specialist palliative care services are currently provided in three areas with high minority ethnic populations and contains a series of recommendations around ethnic monitoring, equal opportunities strategies, staff training, communications and the provision of a more culturally sensitive service provision.