The high-profile illness and death of Jade Goody may lead to an improvement in care for the seriously ill and dying, according to an MP.

Caroline Spelman (Con, Meriden) said publicity surrounding Ms Goody would make people aware that they could ask to be treated in their own homes instead of spending their last days in hospital.

Mrs Spelman spoke in the House of Commons as she proposed legislation which would give everyone a legal right to receive care at home. This means care which reduces the symptoms of a disease or condition without curing the disease itself and usually refers to incurable cases, including those which are expected to be terminal.

The MP said she had dealt with many cases in which constituents had been distressed by poor standards of care offered to a loved one. Seriously ill people were more likely to want treatment at home if they knew it was available. “Many of those involved in palliative care have pointed out that the fact that Jade Goody managed to achieve the death at home that she wanted has raised awareness that that is achievable,” she said

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said the government would not support proposed legislation because councils and health trusts did not have the resources to put it into effect. “It is tempting to see a statutory right as the appropriate stick to whip errant trusts and councils into line. In this case, however, I think that the problem is not so much that councils and trusts are erring, but that they are not yet in a position to deliver a full range of options that people could conceivably request if a right to choose were formally conferred. We do not want to reach a position where the formal right exists but the services cannot be provided. Such a situation would raise expectations at a very difficult time when the services cannot be there.”