A right to palliative care is something everyone in Scotland should have according to an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.
The inquiry showed that according to projections based on UK data there are no less than 10,000 people in Scotland who are not getting the care they require. MSPs have therefore called for the Scottish Government Strategic Framework to explain how palliative care can be accessed at the point of need.
MSPs found that palliative care is more readily available for those with a diagnosis of cancer and that people who experience homelessness and have non-malignant conditions, or who have learning disabilities are less likely to access the care they require at the end of their lives.
Convener of the Committee Duncan McNeil MSP commented:
‘Our Committee came to a firm conclusion that everyone who needs it should be able to access high quality, person-centred palliative care. 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.
‘Conversations around death and dying are never easy. But palliative care is about giving people the best quality of life regardless of how long that may be for.
‘This report is not about policy in isolation but people. The provision of good quality palliative care affects us all whether as parents, children, or as carers of loved ones. It’s important that change comes as a result of this inquiry and more work is undertaken by the Scottish Government to find out why people are not getting the care they need.’
Deputy Convener of the Committee Bob Doris MSP added:
‘Our Committee heard that the UK ranks top in all key studies of palliative care development around the world in relation to the organisation and delivery of palliative care. However the Committee recognises that there is always room for improvement and the collection of robust data can help measure the effectiveness and quality of the care being provided.
‘As our population ages and more people need palliative and end of life care, it is vital we look beyond just the specialist settings and take a more comprehensive look at where care is being provided to ensure the right care is delivered at the right time and in the right setting.
‘The Committee welcomes the commitment of the Scottish Government to bring forward a framework for the delivery of high quality palliative care and we hope that the new framework will build on the committee’s findings.’
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