The Holyrood Health and Sport Committee has completed its research into specialist end-of-life care, and found that it shouldn’t be limited to merely cancer patients.
A committee of Members of the Scottish Parliament came to the conclusion that such care should be open to all patients.
In a damning indictment of healthcare in Scotland, the committee suggested that 10,000 people in Scotland are currently receiving insufficient access to palliative healthcare.
The commission also suggested that those with terminal illnesses other than cancer, the homeless and those with learning disabilities were less likely to receive palliative care at the end of their lives.
While decisions are currently made on a condition-based premise, the committee of Scottish MPs instead suggested that such critical decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.
Increasing numbers of people suffering from terminal diseases are currently on the palliative care register, but the committee acknowledged that there is a serious issue with regard to access to palliative care for people with non-malignant diseases.
Scottish MPs concluded that palliative care should be a right not a privilege.
Commenting on the issue, committee convener Duncan McNeil, the Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, suggested that Scotland needs to take a much harder line on this issue.
“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.”
Prof David Clark of Glasgow University provided evidence to the committee which suggested that more than 10,000 Scots who could benefit from palliative care towards the end of their life died without receiving it.
This damning evidence was also backed up by accounts which suggest that homeless people and those with learning difficulties are significantly less likely to receive palliative care.
Health Secretary Shona Robison welcomed the report and stated that the Scottish government’s strategic framework on palliative and end-of-life care was due to be published by the end of the year.
“This framework will help ensure that everyone in Scotland – infant, child, young person or adult – no matter where they live and no matter what clinical conditions they have, will receive care from a health and social care system that recognises when time is becoming shorter. It will be supported by £3m funding over three years. The committee’s report will help inform the development of this framework.”
General health issues have been a major problem for Scotland over the last few years, with diminishing life expectancy in some of the worst hit areas underlining this trend.
In particular, it is been widely publicised that Glasgow is the city with the lowest life expectancy of any in the United Kingdom.