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Palliative Care sector raises concerns over Brexit

The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care has written to David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, raising concerns over the impact that withdrawal from the EU may have on the care of the dying in Scotland.

The open letter, signed on behalf of the Partnership’s governing council, calls on Mr Davis to recognise the part that EU health and social care staff play in end of life care in Scotland, and to pay due attention to sustaining staff numbers. There is little capacity to absorb any detrimental impacts of Brexit, the letter states.

The letter points to research that reveals Brexit could have a disruptive impact on care of the dying in Scotland:

  • Uncertainty over Brexit has already reduced the numbers of EU nurses registering to practice in the UK (Nursing and Midwifery Council)
  • 4% of nurses and midwives in NHS Scotland are non-British EU nationals, as are 1400 doctors (Scottish Government)
  • 6% of the care home workforce are non-British EU nationals. (Scottish Care)

It also expresses concern over the future of EU research funding and cross-border collaboration into the improvement of end of life care. Clinical medicine and biosciences research received well over £200 million in EU research funding in 2014/15.

The Westminster Government is also urged to ensure that any new arrangements between the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency do not result in delayed patient access to new drugs.

“The importance of good end of life care cannot be overstated,” says Mark Hazelwood, Chief Executive of the Scottish Partnership of Palliative Care, “It is central to a caring and compassionate society. Any negative impact on staff or funding caused by exiting the European Union will bring great difficulties to a sector that already faces significant challenges, and could cause unnecessary suffering to people who are at their most vulnerable.”


The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care brings together over 50 organisations involved in providing palliative and end of life care in Scotland. Membership of the Partnership spans organisations employing health and social care professionals in hospitals, social care services, primary care, hospices and other charities. The Partnership exists to improve people’s experiences of declining health, death, dying and bereavement.

The full text of the letter can be found here: Open letter to Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

To Absent Friends Festival

Preparations are well underway for this year’s To Absent Friends, a people’s festival of storytelling and remembrance.

This is set to be the biggest year yet, and festival listings can be viewed on the To Absent Friends website. We’re adding to the list every day, so please get in touch if you would like to get involved. If you're looking for inspiration, some ideas are suggested here: Get Involved.

Food, storytelling and music in memory of absent friends

Join us for an evening of spoken word, storytelling and music in memory of absent friends, with entertainment from:

  • Cat Loud, Cabaret Singer
  • Donald Smith, Storyteller and Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • Max Scratchmann, Spoken Word Artist

A simple three-course meal will be provided by the Cyrenians Community Cook club. Invite some people you'd like to spend the evening with, book a table, and raise a toast to Absent Friends. Tickets are £6. More information and booking is available here: To Absent Friends Supper

Do you work with people who enjoy sharing their memories of times gone by?

This October we are working with Scottish Care and the Luminate Festival of Creative Ageing on an initiative which aims to uncover lost tales of relationships in the 1940s and 50s. We want to find out about the adults that made the decade special - the parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, teachers, neighbours and friends that left a lasting impression on young people living in post-war Scotland.

Throughout October, we'll be inviting people to take part in a Scotland-wide reminiscence project called Absent Friends from the 40s & 50s. We'll be collecting stories and anecdotes and creating an online collage of remembrance which celebrates and commemorates some of the 'ordinary' people made these decades special. If you’re interested in taking part, please get in touch or check out the website for more information.

Storytelling Workshop

SPPC is pleased to be working with the Scottish International Storytelling Festival to put on a workshop exploring storytelling and remembrance. With contributions from Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the workshop will provide an opportunity to explore Absent Friends Suppers as a means of reviving storytelling and remembrance in the Scottish tradition. Monday 30 October 2017, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh. £8

Response on Innovation and Technology in the NHS

The SPPC has submitted a response to the Scottish Parliament Health & Sport Committee's call for views on Innovation and Technology in the NHS.

Within the response we highlight that there are key opportunities for the use of technology in health and social care to:

a) Improve how technology supports Anticipatory Care Planning (ACP)

b) Improve integration and communication between the statutory, independent and voluntary sectors

c) Support more useful feedback on quality of care and outcomes.

Our response suggests that ICT systems should be developed which expand on the functions of the Key Information Summary (KIS) and have the following characteristics:


  • ACPs can be easily and frequently updated to reflect the ongoing and evolving conversations which underpin good anticipatory care planning.
  • ACPs can be updated (in real time) by relevant people from different settings which span primary care, secondary, tertiary, social care and potentially education (to enable the appropriate support of children and young people).
  • ACPs are accessible to third sector providers such as hospices and independent sector providers such as care homes.
  • ACPs are accessible in different settings and by different devices.
  • People using services (and their informal carers where appropriate permission has been granted) are able to access their own ACP.
  • ACPs are sufficiently flexible in format to support individual preference (both of the patient/client and professionals).
  • The system is framed by information governance rules which support secondary use of data for service improvement, planning and research.

Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief small grants

Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief is running two small grants schemes to support organisations wishing to participate in this year's To Absent Friends festival...

Small Grants Scheme for To Absent Friends Concerts

A small grants fund has been established to enable community music groups to put on To Absent Friends concerts. The maximum sum available through this programme is £350 and the deadline for applications is 23 August 2017.

More information is available here: small grants for community music groups.

Small Grants Schemes for Organisations

A small grants fund has been set up to support organisations to participate in To Absent Friends, with a particular focus on supporting small organisations to undertake local activities that provide public opportunities for storytelling and/or remembrance of people who have died. The maximum sum available through this programme is £250 and the deadline for applications is 23 August 2017.

More information is available here: small grants scheme

New SPPC Strategy Published

The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care has published Bringing People Together, a new organisational strategy which sets out our strategic priorities for the next three years.

The strategy was developed by the SPPC Council together with SPPC members and other stakeholders between October 2016 and March 2017.

It outlines four main strategic priorities that the SPPC will work towards between 2017 and 2020:

Listen, Inform & Connect

Over the next three years we aim to:
  • Generate, gather and share information and expertise which supports organisations and practitioners to improve care.
  • Foster networks which support collaboration and joined up working between organisations and individuals towards realising the aims of Scottish Government's Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care.
  • Support research and the spread of effective practice and innovation.

Give Voice

Over the next three years we aim to:

  • Provide channels through which the experiences and ideas of those working in this field can influence the development of policy and practice.
  • Advocate the value of good care towards the end of life.
  • Enable the views and experiences of the public, patients and families to be heard and exert influence.

Promote open and supportive attitudes and behaviours

Over the next three years we aim to:

  • Provide information, resources, leadership, ideas, networks and events which promote more open and supportive attitudes and influence public policy.
  • Promote the importance of planning ahead for ill health and death, and reducing inappropriate medical interventions towards the end of life.
  • Build the inclination, confidence and capacity of other organisations to promote open and supportive attitudes and behaviours relating to death, dying and bereavement.

Ensure our impact

Over the next three years we aim to:

  • Improve our funding position.
  • Support and develop our employees and volunteers.
  • Position ourselves to better engage with and serve all staff who care for people towards the end of life, whether or not they identify their work as"palliative care".

A full copy of the strategy is available to download here: Bringing People Together, SPPC strategy 2017-2020.

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