An inquiry into the quality and availability of palliative care has been launched by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee. The inquiry “We need to talk about Palliative Care” will focus on how patients can access the palliative care they need regardless of where they live and the diagnosis they receive.
MSPs today met with patients and staff at Marie Curie’s Hospice in Glasgow to make a plea for people to tell the Committee of their experiences of accessing palliative and end of life care.
Speaking as the Committee launched the inquiry, Convener of the Committee Duncan McNeil MSP said:
“The recent debate on assisted dying highlighted that the provision of palliative care in Scotland is not good enough. Our Committee heard that access to palliative care is not available on an equal basis.
“When faced with a terminal condition, it’s clear that the priority must be to put patient’s needs at the heart of their treatment and care.
“We want this inquiry to shine a light on access to palliative care in Scotland and what more can be done to improve care for people at the end of their lives.”
The Committee is also investigating how information should be made available to patients and their families about the types of support that is available and when the right time is to start talking about options for palliative care.
Deputy Convener of the Committee Bob Doris MSP said:
“Our Committee believes that everyone in Scotland should have access to high quality palliative care.
“We’ve already heard that the earlier the conversation takes place on palliative care, the more likely it is the patient will receive care which reflects their needs and priorities.
“As a Committee we want to use this inquiry to hear directly from patients and their families as well as those working in health and care sectors about their experiences of palliative and end of life care and how they think the system can be improved.”
Richard Meade, Marie Curie’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Scotland said:
"Marie Curie welcomes this much needed and important inquiry. We know that palliative care provides great care and support for people living with a terminal illness, but unfortunately thousands of people in Scotland are missing out or receiving it much later than they should.
“This inquiry will help us to complete the picture of unmet need and identify clear recommendations to address this."
The Committee is asking for views on the following issues:
• What has been your experience in terms of access to palliative and end of life care?
• How could it be ensured that access to palliative and end of life care is equitable and available in all areas and for all types of terminal illnesses?
• Can you identify any areas in terms of access to palliative and end of life care that should be focused on as priorities?
• When is the right time to begin discussing options for Palliative Care, who should be party to that discussion, who should initiate it and where should it take place?
• What works well in discussing palliative and end of life care and how is good practise communicated? Where do the challenges remain?
• What is the role of anticipatory care plans in supporting Palliative Care discussions and how can their uptake be improved?
• How should information about Palliative Care be made available to patients and their family during any initial discussions and how easily available is this information?
• What training and support is provided to Health and Care staff on discussing Palliative Care with patients and families and are there any areas for improvement?
• How do Health and Care organisations ensure that the discussions about palliative and end of life care are taking place at the right time?
• What are the challenges in recording and documenting Palliative Care priorities and how well are those priorities communicated between different health and care providers?
The Committee’s call for views will be open until 12 August.