Higher standards of palliative care for terminally ill patients have been promised by the Scottish Government.
Patients suffering from incurable illnesses will be identified and given a care plan covering their emotional, physical and spiritual needs within two weeks.
24-hour nursing and care services will also be provided to care for patients who want to end their lives at home.
Statistics reveal that palliative care could benefit thousands more people who die in Scotland each year than are actually receiving it, with provision varying widely across the country.
According to statistics, while 90 per cent of palliative care in Scotland is delivered to cancer patients, cancer accounts for 30 per cent of deaths.
Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “While maintaining a focus on the needs of people dying from cancer, I believe that it is essential that we strengthen palliative care services across Scotland.
“We must take a broader and more inclusive approach to other areas such as long-term conditions, frailty and dementia.”
The policy contrasts starkly with recent controversial comments from Baroness Warnock, who said that elderly people suffering with dementia should consider whether they had a “duty to die”.
She said: “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.”
There has been pressure from some quarters in Scotland to introduce legislation that would weaken the law on euthanasia.
A Bill to allow assisted suicide in Scotland was introduced last year by Liberal Democrat MSP Jeremy Purvis, but it failed to receive enough support.
Independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, has also called for a ‘right to die’ law and has said she will consider introducing another Bill if Mr Purvis does not renew his attempt.