ECEPC is a highly respected qualification in palliative care founded and coordinated by Princess Alice Hospice since 2001

The European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care (ECEPC) is a highly respected qualification in palliative care founded and coordinated by Princess Alice Hospice since 2001. The 9-week course is offered to healthcare professionals new to palliative care, who have direct access to end of life patients.

The qualification assesses candidates on a range of palliative care topics including, but limited to; symptom issues, emergency conditions, the last 48 hours, difficult conversations, bereavement and common ethical issues.

Princess Alice Hospice Education department works closely with approved ‘sites’ across Europe to deliver this remote course. Candidates are provided with an extensive course Handbook, access to a comprehensive virtual learning hub and a facilitator to help with the assessment element of the course. There are no formal teaching sessions, however, optional support sessions are offered.



Click on the links below to find out more about the ECEPC course

Who is the European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care (ECEPC) aimed at?

The course is offered to registered healthcare professionals from all disciplines providing palliative care. It is open to doctors, nurses, nursing associates, paramedics, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech & language therapists from primary, secondary and tertiary settings.

The course assessment requires a holistic approach. We appreciate that professionals will come from different perspectives depending on their discipline and this will be taken into account when marking.

For example, if you are an occupational therapist you will not be expected to list the drug and complications but to be aware that there are some.

All candidates are required to have:

  • Possession of a relevant professional healthcare qualification
  • Current involvement in providing palliative and end of life care, as part of the course assessment requires completion of a patient focussed case study, submitted as a written portfolio
  • Time allocated to complete the course – recommended approximately 50 hours of home study during the 9-weeks, however this varies greatly from person to person
  • Access to email, internet, and computer / laptop
  • Funding (£500) confirmed

As this is an intense course over a 9-week period, we highly recommend that candidates avoid lengthy holidays or other large projects/commitments during the course dates.

What will I learn and what is included in the course?

On completion of the course you will have had the opportunity to learn and be assessed on:

  • What palliative care is and who is it for?
  • Symptom management in palliative care
  • Patients with emergency conditions
  • Care in the last 48 hours of life
  • Breaking bad news to patients and families
  • Bereavement and support
  • Common ethical issues

Assessment is in three formats:

Portfolio – Based on a patient the candidate has cared for with palliative care needs.  The 2,500 word reflective portfolio should include the effect it has on both a personal and professional level. It should be supported by literature and demonstrate how the learning will influence future care.

Written examination: There will be a 45 minute online examination on content from the Course Handbook. It will also include five common opioid calculations.

Oral assessment (Viva): This is a short verbal assessment completed remotely either via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, exploring the knowledge and skills developed throughout the course.

Candidates will receive:

  • An extensive Course Handbook
  • Access to a comprehensive virtual learning hub/website with library resources
  • A facilitator through their ‘local’ site, who will support them through the assessment elements of the course.

Where will I do the course?

The European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care is a remote learning course, which means you do not need to attend any face-to-face sessions.

Conversations with facilitators, portfolio submission and the assessment day (including exam) are all online / over the telephone.

You will register with one ‘local’ site, who will be your first point of contact for the duration of the course and you may also receive communication from Princess Alice Hospice.

When does the next course start?

We run two courses a year – one in the Spring and another in the Autumn.

AUTUMN 2024 – registration open (closes 10 August)

9 September 2024– Course launch event – GMT 1800hrs

13 November 2024 – Remote assessment day – GMT 0930- (approximately) 1400hrs

Spring 2025 – registration open (closes 7 March)

7 April 2025 – Course launch event – GMT 1800hrs

11 June 2025 – Remote assessment day – GMT 0930hrs to 1400hrs (latest)

How much does the course cost and how to I apply?


Candidates are required to have funding in place before applying. The course is £500 and can be paid by invoice (for trusts and larger organisations) or by card payment online.

Staff working in hospices in the UK can apply to the Wolfson Foundation (via Hospice UK) to cover part of the cost of this programme. See Hospice UK for more details.


Candidates often prefer to choose a site that is local to them geographically however, as the course is run totally remotely, without any physical attendance required, you can choose to register with any site that has availability, ie. as the course fills up you may be living and working in Kent but the site you register and have support from may be in Ireland.

  • Princess Alice Hospice, Esher
  • Birmingham Hospice, Birmingham
  • Heart of Kent Hospice, Kent
  • LOROS Hospice, Leicestershire

Online form here

See contact details below for all other applications direct to the sites themselves:

All course applications must be submitted with a current photograph so we can verify you on the assessment day.


Will there be any face-to-face or virtual teaching sessions?

There are no face to face or virtual teaching sessions on palliative care. Learning will be self-directed using the course handbook and candidates own research methods.

However, candidates will be invited to course information sessions held via Zoom at the start of the course. These include:

  • Introduction and overview about the course and assessment
  • Finding and using evidence – research methods for the portfolio

How much study time / study leave will I need?

This is a remote, home study, 9-week course, which takes approximately 50 hours in total, averaging between 3-6 hours per week.

Any study leave should be directly negotiated with your employer.

Key dates to consider can be advised by your local site upon successful application, these will consist of;

  • Course launch – Zoom/Teams
  • Candidate support sessions – Zoom/Teams
  • Portfolio assignment submission in week 6 – via Learningzone
  • Assessment day (written exam and viva) in week 9 – Zoom/Teams

The assessment day is mandatory and you will need to ensure your availability for this.

What is a ‘site’?

While Princess Alice Hospice is the co-ordinating site, there are multiple ‘local-sites’ that offer the course, including Princess Alice Hospice.

A ‘local site’ is the Organisation that candidates register or sign up with and to whom the candidate / employer will pay the course fees. This site will be the first point of contact for any course related questions and will provide you with your candidate number, contact details of your facilitator and exam results.

Growth over the last 20 years

31In 2001 we began with 31 candidates

500By 2005 we hit a milestone of 500 successful candidates

5000In 2018 we had 5000 successful candidates

10000+In 2023 we have surpassed 10000 candidates

Contact us

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