Palliative and end of life care is essential to healthcare systems worldwide, yet a minute proportion of research funding is spent on palliative and end of life care research. Routinely collected health and social care data provide an efficient and useful opportunity for evaluating and improving care for patients and families. There are excellent examples of routine data research in palliative and end of life care, but routine data resources are widely underutilised. We held four workshops on using routinely collected health and social care data in palliative and end of life care. Researchers presented studies from the UK, USA and Europe. The aim was to highlight valuable examples of work with routine data including work with death registries, hospital activity records, primary care data and specialist palliative care registers. This article disseminates that work, describes the benefits of routine data research and identifies major challenges for the future use of routine data, including; access to data, improving data linkage, and the need for more palliative and end of life care specific data.