Thousands in Scotland 'not receiving pallative care'

Nurse and patient holding hands Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The report suggests a quarter of those who would benefit from palliative care do not receive it

A report prepared for a Scottish Parliament committee has estimated that 10,600 people die in Scotland each year without appropriate end-of-life care.

The report for the health committee by Prof David Clark of Glasgow University suggested that some 40,000 people would benefit from palliative care.

But it estimated that a quarter of them do not receive it.

The report also said that reliable figures on the quality and availability of care are not available in Scotland.

Its calculations were based on projections of statistics from England.

It said that "reliable studies" looking at the need for palliative care estimated that "in rich countries around 82% of all people who die would benefit from palliative care" - with this equating to about 40,000 people a year in Scotland.

The report said: "In England, slightly less robust estimates have been produced which indicate the numbers that might currently be receiving palliative care.

"These have been used to form estimates of those who might benefit from but are currently not receiving palliative care - giving an estimate for Scotland of 10,600 people who die each year without receiving palliative care."

'Serious deficits'

Palliative care aims to prevent and alleviate suffering caused by life-limiting illnesses, particularly towards the end of life.

Health committee convener Duncan McNeil said MSPs had heard "anecdotally there are serious deficits in the quality of palliative care being provided for in Scotland".

He added: "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.

"The research identifies a major issue and that is a serious lack of information on the provision of palliative care in Scotland."

Deputy convener Bob Doris said: "The provision of end-of-life care is not one that is going to go away as our population ages and more and more people need care at the end of life.

"The Scottish government is already looking into this area as they prepare to publish their framework for action on palliative and end of life care. We hope that this research and our inquiry findings will provide some helpful insight to this."

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