Scottish government commits to ensuring everyone in Scotland gets good quality palliative and end of life care

Categories: Policy.

The framework – which covers the next five years and will be supported by a £3.5 million investment from the Scottish government – seeks to break down the barriers to accessing palliative and end of life care.

The document expresses hope that a person’s age, diagnosis or socio-economic background or where they live no longer compromises their ability to receive care when it is needed.

It supports people to plan ahead and discuss their end of life care wishes before their condition deteriorates, and offers improved access to training for health and social care staff.

Additionally, the framework calls for a greater openness about death, dying and bereavement in Scotland and more recognition of the support services available in local communities.

Launching the framework, the Scottish government health secretary, Shona Robison, highlighted the need to continue to improve people’s experience of care in Scotland.

“Scotland already has a very good reputation for our palliative and end of life care. But we are determined to keep improving,” she said. “One of the key areas we want to improve is on the consistency of services. Through this new framework we want to make sure that everyone receives high quality palliative care – tailored to their own symptoms and life circumstances. This should be delivered to the same high standards, regardless of where you live, or what your illness is.”

Professor David Clark, consulting editor of the report, added: “There are some very encouraging things happening in palliative care in Scotland. The framework commits us all to the goals and the priorities we now have to address. I am confident it will lead to widespread improvement in one of the most challenging issues of the day – how we care for people at the end of life.”

Today’s news has been welcomed by charities from across the sector, many of whom contributed to the development of the framework.

Maria McGill, chief executive of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, said: “The [framework] recognises easily accessible, quality palliative care should be a right for everyone in Scotland who could benefit from it. [It] rightly recognises that the issues and needs of children’s palliative care are unique and that this area in particular requires further development and commitment.”

Kenny Steele, chair of the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care, echoed these sentiments.

“The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care welcomes the commitment of the Scottish government to improving palliative and end of life care for the many tens of thousands of people in Scotland who need it every year,” he said. “We look forward to working with our 50-plus member organisations and the Scottish government to maximise the impact of this strategy.”

UK-wide charities have also heralded the publication of the framework, recognising its importance to people with life-limiting conditions living in Scotland.

“The Strategic Framework for Action is an important milestone for the people of Scotland, setting out the support that everyone should expect if they need palliative and end of life care,” said Kathleen Caper, head of policy and advocacy at Hospice UK.

“The Scottish government’s commitment of £3.5 million towards the implementation of the framework is a welcome symbol of its commitment to those with palliative and end of life care needs.

“Hospice services are critical to the successful implementation of the framework’s commitments. Hospice services work across health and social care, from hospice inpatient care, to care homes, community nurses to acute hospitals, often providing the key connection for patients.

“The hospice sector has a huge amount of intelligence and experience which will ensure a smooth transition in moving commissioning of end of life and palliative care services from health boards to health and social care partnerships. Hospice services must therefore be a key partner in the development of guidance on strategic commissioning for health and social care partnerships.

“Hospice services have also driven education and training for end of life care across the health and care landscape. Our member hospices are already committed to innovating practice through robust research and can thus contribute a great deal to the planned Scottish Research Forum for Palliative and End of Life Care.”

Barbara Gelb, chief executive of Together for Short Lives, added: “We are pleased that the Scottish government has launched the new framework, which recognises the distinct nature of children’s palliative care and commits to developing these services further. High quality children’s palliative care should be available where and when children and their families need it and we are delighted that this is reflected in the new strategy.

“We look forward to working with the Scottish government and our members to deliver against this framework and support children’s palliative care providers across Scotland. These services still require additional investment to support the important work that they are already doing and to develop them further.

“We also welcome a national, strategic approach in Scotland to children’s palliative care with funding dedicated to implementing it. We would like to see this principle adopted across the UK – particularly in England, where we call on the UK government to coordinate strategies and funding streams to create a more joined-up approach for children with life-limiting conditions and their families.”

The full framework can be downloaded on the Scottish government website.

This article originally appeared on ehospice UK.