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Bill proposes right to quality terminal care

18 November 2008

The SNP MSP Roseanna Cunningham is proposing a member's bill to standardise palliative care for patients across Scotland.

At present, there is no statutory requirement for health boards to provide high quality care for the terminally ill. Ms Cunningham wants health boards to be required to provide this care for those who need it, either in their homes, hospices or hospitals.

Her proposed bill, now out for consultation, also defines palliative care and suggests that it should be extended to patients with life-threatening illnesses other than cancer, such as those suffering from Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, HIV, heart failure or dementia.

Explaining the aims of the bill in her consultation paper, she states that the evidence strongly suggests that access to palliative care is inequitable across Scotland and its quality is variable.

Ms Cunningham adds: "The population of Scotland is ageing and with that process there will be an increasing incidence of serious, complex, chronic illness towards the end of life."

"The need for good-quality palliative care for all who need it, therefore, will become all the greater in future years."

The Scottish Government produced a Palliative Care Action Plan last month, which acknowledged the need for improvements in provisions, but Ms Cunningham takes the plan further by making the improvements a legal obligation for NHS boards.

Responses are due by 28 February next year.


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