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First Meeting of Scottish Acute Palliative Care Network

The Scottish Acute Palliative Care Network (SAPCN) held its first meeting on Thursday 16th January 2020, in Glasgow. SAPCN connects hospital palliative care teams across Scotland to share learning, provide support and facilitate collaboration on issues of common interest. It is part of the Building on the Best project.

The inaugural meeting was attended by over 50 representatives of hospital specialist palliative care teams from all the mainland NHS boards. The meeting explored what the aims, activities and initial priorities of the network should be. In addition to planning the development of the network the day also featured plenty of networking in action. Read more here.

Grants available for Quality Improvement Projects in Acute Hospitals

A new grants scheme has been launched to support improvements to palliative care in Acute Hospitals in Scotland. The grants scheme is part of the Building on the Best Project, which aims to improve palliative and end of life care on hospital wards in Scotland and in turn improve the experiences and outcomes of patients and their families.

Grant applications are invited from any acute clinical area that can demonstrate a need for improvement in the care being offered to patients who are experiencing a deterioration in their health and facing an uncertain outcome.

More information about the grants scheme is available here: Building on the Best grants

Letter Expressing Brexit Concerns Sent to All MPs Representing Scottish Constituencies

SPPC has written to all MPs who represent Scottish constituencies to reiterate concerns about the impact of Brexit on the care of people approaching the end of their lives. Together with the letter SPPC also sent a copy of its updated analysis of the likely impacts of Brexit on palliative and end of life care. You can download a copy of the letter here.

What should primary care look like for the next generation?

The SPPC has responded to the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee consultation exploring the future of primary care in Scotland. The response can be accessed here: What should primary care look like for the next generation?

Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care comments on The Inescapable Truth about Dying in Scotland (a new report by Dignity in Dying)

Following the recent publication of The Inescapable Truth by Dignity in Dying, the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care has published the following comment on the report:

SPPC acknowledges the stories of individual suffering contained within the report recently published by Dignity in Dying. The relief of suffering and the promotion of wellbeing in difficult life circumstances is the central concern of palliative care. It is important that the voices of people who have bad experiences are heard so that we can keep making improvements.

Scotland is internationally recognised as having some of the best palliative and end of life care in the world. Every day thousands of staff in hospices, hospitals, care homes and in the community provide care which helps people and their families to get through the difficult times which can come with death, dying and bereavement. Most people in Scotland will have seen or experienced examples of such care, and be reassured that experiences of the type described in the Dignity in Dying Report are relatively rare.

Specialist palliative care, like any part of our health and social care system, cannot claim to be perfect 100% of the time. However, modern palliative care has made great progress in improving people’s experiences towards the end of life, and it is very unusual for doctors to run out of options to control pain. As the report acknowledges, in the rare cases where symptoms can’t be reduced to a level which a person feels able to bear, there is the option for a doctor to use medication/sedatives to reduce the person’s conscious awareness of those symptoms.

The provision of palliative care in Scotland is guided by a range of relevant guidelines and standards, including Scottish Government Guidance Caring for People in the Last Days and Hours of Life, GMC Guidance Treatment and Care Towards the End of Life: Good Practice in Decision-Making andthe NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland Scottish Palliative Care Guidelines.

Modern palliative care has made great progress in improving people’s experiences towards the end of life, and more improvements can be made. There must be a stronger focus in Scotland on improving the care which these people receive towards the end of life. Around 57,000 people die annually in Scotland. Of these it is estimated that as many as 47,000 people will have needs arising from living with deteriorating health for years, months or weeks before they die. Most people will be at home, in hospital or in a care home towards the end of life. There is a need to maintain adequate staffing levels to provide care and support in these settings. There is a need for training and education to build the skills and confidence of these staff. There is also a need to invest in specialist palliative care services so that they can both help people with more difficult symptoms, and also provide advice and support to other staff.

There is clear evidence that investments of the sort outlined above will improve people’s experiences of death, dying and bereavement. Scotland needs to become more ambitious about ensuring that everyone gets the best care possible, whether at home, in hospital, in a care home or in a hospice.

The SPPC's full response can be viewed here: Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care comment on The Inescapable Truth about Dying in Scotland (a new report by Dignity in Dying)

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