Terminally ill people are at risk of dying in hospital instead of at home because of funding cuts a leading charity has claimed.
Marie Curie has announced it is ending its palliative care services in Fife at the end of May amid fears the rates being offered in a new contract would not allow it to deliver the same level of quality care.
The organisation said the rates quoted by Fife Health and Social Care Partnership were “unrealistic and restrictive”.
Richard Meade, Marie Curie head of policy and public affairs in Scotland, predicted the contract would result in reduced quality of care and warned the impact would extend beyond patients.
“People are more likely to die in hospital than in the community or in their own home, putting greater pressure on acute services,” he said.
“It can also have an immediate and long term impact on family members who may have to provide the main caring role.
“Without adequate support from services families are at increased risk of being overwhelmed by that role and the possibility of the care breaking down. This can have a significant negative impact on how they are able to cope with bereavement and grief.”
Mr Meade said the Health and Social Care Partnership, jointly run by NHS Fife and Fife Council, had incorporated palliative care into a much larger contract dominated by social care. He cautioned against such a move, despite potential efficiencies.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley said: “End of life care and support should be of the best standard and quality and when we have an organisation with the expertise of Marie Curie telling us that this new contract cannot deliver this then we need to demand that the managers in health and social care think again.”
Claire Dobson, the partnership’s divisional general manager, said: “Regardless of who is delivering services, the provision of high quality care which ensures each individual’s personal dignity throughout their journey is our first priority.
“This is never more so when it comes to the sensitivity of palliative care and the choices of service users and their carers.
“As with all our service providers, we value greatly the working relationship with Marie Curie and so it is disappointing that we’ve not had the opportunity to discuss their concerns.”