Launching a Right to Palliative Care Bill - Miles Briggs

Miles Briggs MSP.Miles Briggs MSP.
Miles Briggs MSP.
The establishment of the National Health Service some 76 years ago and the founding principles of a health service from cradle to grave have underpinned the social fabric of our society.

​However, what is often the unrecognised reality is that palliative and end of life care is predominantly provided by the charitable sector in a hospice or hospice at home setting with no legal right to palliative care currently existing.

The hospice sector in Scotland is something we should rightly be proud of. It is there for so many people and their loved ones at the most difficult time in their lives with limited funding from the Scottish Government to deliver professional services both in hospice and at home.

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I was pleased to work in the last session of Parliament to bring forward Frank’s Law to extend free personal care for people under the age of 65. During that time I met with many people and families who were struggling to access the care and support needed or to arrange and plan for end of life care which often resulted in people dying in hospital when they wanted to be at home.

Marie Curie most recent study projected that by 2040, 95 per cent of all people in Scotland who die may need a palliative care supportMarie Curie most recent study projected that by 2040, 95 per cent of all people in Scotland who die may need a palliative care support
Marie Curie most recent study projected that by 2040, 95 per cent of all people in Scotland who die may need a palliative care support

Today in Scotland, 1 in 4 people do not receive the end of life palliative care that they need and the negative results that come from that can be serious. Those with life-limiting conditions in Scotland currently face a postcode lottery when it comes to the level of care they receive and it is crucial that access to palliative care, and the quality of it, is afforded to all in Scotland, regardless of where we live.

That is why I am pleased to be working with Marie Curie on palliative care issues in Scotland and want to see a change to the law in Scotland to ensure everyone has a legal right to receive the necessary palliative care and support at the end of life.

I have just launched a consultation on a Right to Palliative Care, and the consultation will be the first stage of the process in introducing a Member’s Bill for a Right to Palliative Care, which will seek to give people of all ages living with a terminal illness and residing in Scotland a legal right to palliative care. This consultation will last for another 10 weeks, until June 4th, 2024.

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We all know how end of life care can be an incredibly emotional – and often distressing – time for a person and their family and knowing that they have the right to access high quality palliative care can actively alleviate the suffering and stress associated with the dying process and perhaps more importantly make sure that someone’s wishes to die at home are respected.

We also know that we face an increasing challenging future with an estimated 10,000 additional people requiring end of life care in Scotland by 2040, so we need to start preparing and planning for the additional pressures this will bring to the NHS and hospice sector.

I welcome the views of everyone interested in providing their experiences to my consultation and who want to sign the Marie Curie petition. To get involved, please visit the Scottish Parliament website, or visit the Marie Curie Scotland website.

Together we can make Scotland the best country in the world for people to access end of life care and to achieve that we need a right to palliative care for all in Scotland.

Miles Briggs is a Conservative Lothian MSP

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