An estimated 10,600 people in Scotland die each year without receiving the palliative care they require, according to a report presented to the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee.
The report, International comparisons in palliative care provision: What can the indicators tell us, compiled by researchers from the University of Glasgow, presented data on the provision of palliative care services in wealthy countries such as England, Australia and Spain. Approximately 82% of people who die would benefit from palliative care services, equating to approximately 40,000 people in Scotland. The analysis estimates that this means 10,600 people who die in Scotland each year but do not receive palliative care when they should be.
Deputy convener of the Health and Sport Committee Bob Doris MSP 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. Part of the issue is one of identification of who might need end of life care. There is good quality palliative care being provided across Scotland. However, that work often goes unidentified. We have to change that and ensure greater support is given when needed.’
The report suggests that major improvements need to be made in the collection of data on palliative care in the country. It states that while there is growing evidence of testing of outcomes and quality indicators of palliative care, this tends to be focused on specialist end-of-life centres such as hospices, as opposed to in mainstream health and social care services.
Professor David Clark, the report’s author, said: ‘Scotland has a very strong record of success in developing palliative care services and contributing to the wider development of this type of care. We need to build on this to get better measures of the reach of palliative care, the outcomes it is achieving and where improvements can be made.’