‘Thousands missing out on palliative care in Scotland’

More than 10,000 people in Scotland could be missing out on care they need as they approach the end of their lives, a Scottish Parliament committee has found.

Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee also said that help is not always available for families who are supporting those at the end of life.

The Government said the findings would influence its upcoming plans on palliative care.

Inconsistent

Duncan McNeil MSP, who chairs the committee, said the politicians agreed that “high quality, person-centred palliative care” should be available to everyone who needs it.

“We heard that this is not happening on a consistent basis and that people across Scotland have a different experience depending on where they live, their age and their condition”, he said.

He added that the Scottish Government should find out why people are not getting the necessary care.

Improvement

Deputy committee leader Bob Doris MSP said while the UK leads the way in palliative care, MSPs recognised that there “is always room for improvement”.

The committee’s inquiry found that, based on projections from UK data, there are more than 10,000 people in Scotland who are not getting the care that they need.

The report was welcomed by Health Secretary Shona Robison, who said the Government’s plans on the issue are due to be made public by the end of 2015.

Assisted suicide

Robison said that the proposals would help ensure that everyone – regardless of age, location or health problem – “will receive care from a health and social care system that recognises when time is becoming shorter”.

“It will be supported by £3m funding over three years. The committee’s report will help inform the development of this framework”, she added.

In May this year, the Scottish Parliament rejected a Bill to legalise assisted suicide.

The legislation, which sought to allow people as young as 16 to get help to kill themselves, was rejected by 82 votes to 36.

In October, the UK was named as the world leader in end-of-life care after a study of 80 countries.