New charity to promote palliative care in Scotland

Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.
Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.
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A NEW national charity has been launched to improve end-of-life care in Scottish hospitals and ensure patients receive the same standard of treatment as they would in a hospice.

Palliation and the Caring Hospital (PATCH) is the first organisation to promote the need for 24/7 specialist palliative care north of the border.

Only a minority of hospital patients in Scotland who could benefit from specialist care at the end of their lives actually receive it

Sir Michael Nairn, PATCH chairman

With more than 50 per cent of Scots likely to die in hospital, PATCH aims to raise the profile of end-of-life care and will work with government, hospices, other charities and professional bodies to do so.

Currently only a minority of patients who could benefit from specialist palliative care actually receive it.

As only one in twenty patients will die in a hospice PATCH believes that terminally ill hospital patients deserve the same quality of care.

The charity was inspired by the acute palliative care unit in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, which started in 2009 and is now NHS funded.

Few other hospitals in Scotland have acute palliative care beds with the exception of Dumfries Royal Infirmary, Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline and the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

Others have reduced services in place such as small advisory teams who are not on call 24/7.

A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked end-of-life care in the UK as the best in the world, particularly due to hospice care and free NHS services.

However, providing access to specialist end of life care is not currently a requirement for hospitals in Scotland. PATCH believes that all hospital patients should have access to this service when they need it, regardless of their illness, and skilled staff able to provide it.

Sir Michael Nairn, chairman of PATCH, said: “Only a minority of hospital patients in Scotland who could benefit from specialist care at the end of their lives actually receive it.

“PATCH is working hard to support the NHS and other healthcare organisations to identify hospital requirements and support to deliver them. PATCH believes Scottish hospitals should be as proud of end of life care for patients and families as they are of the care provided for families and babies at the beginning of life.”

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that palliative and end of life care is delivered to the highest standards, in every situation, right across the country. I look forward to working with PATCH as we work to deliver this.

“We are currently developing a new framework for palliative care, supported with £3.5 million of funding over the next four years. This new framework will be published in the near future.”