‘10,000 Scots per year’ die without special care

Written by Tom Freeman on 15 September 2015 in News

Palliative care shortfall in Scotland suggests report

More than 10,000 Scots die every year without receiving any specialist end-of-life care, according to leading academic.

In a report for the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, Professor David Clark of the University of Glasgow estimated 10,600 people in Scotland die each year without receiving any palliative care, which is designed to make end of life more comfortable.

Because of “a lack of information regarding the quality and availability” of palliative care north of the border, Professor Clark used projections based on data from England.


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The report was submitted to the committee as part of its inquiry into end-of-life care in Scotland. The issue was raised during evidence taken on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill.

Committee convener Duncan McNeil MSP said: "From the evidence we have received already during the course of our inquiry, there have been individual cases which tell a story of the difficulties experienced by people at the end of their life in accessing and receiving the palliative care they need.”

According to a submission to the inquiry by palliative specialist Professor Scott Murray, there can be issues with recording palliative care when patients are reluctant to talk about death, and so the use of the term ‘anticipatory care’ can help.

“The challenge here is that to document palliative care means that general practitioners have to discuss what palliative care is with patients which will of course bring up the subject that they have terminal illness," he said.

"This can be difficult and if patients suggest they do not want to talk about this, then the palliative care cannot be recorded in the record."

Early proposals for the new GP contract suggest the clinical responsibility for palliative care in the future could be shared among the primary team in the future.

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