Moves to widen access to palliative care in Scotland

Categories: Care.

Too many people miss out on the right care at the end of life and recently  the Scottish Parliament debated inequities in accessing palliative care with parties across the Chamber coming  together to support efforts to widen access to specialist care, like hospice care.  

In November, Susan Lowes from Marie Curie Scotland blogged here  about the barriers many people face in accessing the right care at the end of life. This followed a seminar hosted by Marie Curie and subsequent event report exploring the range of unacceptable barriers to palliative care.

Around 80% of all people who die in Scotland can benefit from some form of palliative care such as hospice care, yet every year 11,000 people are dying without this care.

In the Scottish Parliament last month, MSPs debated Marie Curie Scotland’s report and the unacceptable inequities people face in accessing palliative care. MSPs across parties articulated the problems Scotland faces in widening access to care as well as a united passion to solve them.

The role of hospices was highlighted by many MSPs, both locally and as a whole sector. They talked about the incredible care hospices provide; and paid tribute to the communities that make that care possible.

We know that Scotland’s hospices directly care for around 20,000 people each year – mainly at home or within a community setting. But, as contributions in parliament observed, it is still not enough. Many people are missing out on the right care at the end of life.

The hospice model of care has an important role to play in widening access to palliative care both in terms of the principles of hospice care and through the way hospices deliver that care.   

As Hospice UK found in our 2016 report into hospice care in Scotland, Scottish hospice care providers are moving beyond their walls, extending care and expertise to other care settings.

The Commission into the Future of Hospice Care highlighted that the future of hospice care lies in partnerships with other health and social care services. This will enable more adults and children to benefit from palliative care at the right time, in a way and place that is right for them.

In the Scottish Parliament, the Minister closed by reaffirming the Scottish Government’s commitment to securing palliative care for everyone in need by 2021. She and Elaine Smith MSP both quoted Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement during the debate.

As a society, together, we have one chance to get it right for people at the end of their life regardless and because of who they are. This is a principle that the modern hospice movement has held at the heart of care for the past 50 years. 

As Cicely said: “You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life.”



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