A Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children report has said the automatic issue of medical cards should be considered for people requiring end-of-life care.

The report on end-of-life care made 37 recommendations.

It called for a national strategy on palliative care and said each hospital should have a designated person to ensure compliance with good standards.

On the medical card issue, it said an alternative would be to extend the renewal period for discretionary medical cards for those requiring end-of-life care to 12 months.

The report suggested that a specialist palliative care budget be established, ring-fencing funding for a minimum of five years.

It said the Government should look at tackling the regional disparities in funding of specialist palliative care services.

Committee chairman Jerry Buttimer said evidence presented to the joint committee at its hearings suggested inequalities based solely on geographic location.

The report also said quality standards should be developed for the funeral services industry, along with an oversight mechanism.

It suggested that State funding be considered for the LauraLynn children's hospice.

It also said the Government could make it a priority to open the hospice beds in St Francis Hospice in Blanchardstown in Dublin, in the Marymount Hospice in Cork and the reopening of beds in Milford Care Centre in Limerick.