Consistent data collection is crucial to the provision of a high-quality palliative care service in Scotland, according to a report from the Public Audit Committee.
In its findings, which follow the publication of the Auditor General for Scotland’s report, A Review of Palliative Care Services, the Committee has called on the Scottish Government to improve data collection so that there is a consistent approach in the monitoring and planning of palliative care, which could result in a higher quality provision of service.
The Committee also welcomed the findings of the Scottish Government’s national action plan for palliative and end-of-life care in Scotland – Living and Dying Well – recognising its potential to enhance the final years of the terminally ill and those close to them.
Committee Convener Hugh Henry MSP said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s action plan, which represents a step forward in the delivery of consistent palliative care services across Scotland. However, we are recommending that the Scottish Government improves its data collection in order to provide a reliable basis for planning and monitoring of service delivery across Scotland."
The development of a national policy on resuscitation was also considered by the Committee. Mr Henry said: “The Committee believes that a single policy on Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) is essential if patients’ wishes are to be respected and implemented. The Committee recommends that the Scottish Government ensures that the DNAR policy which is developed and adopted by health boards is nationally consistent."
The Public Audit Committee also found that health boards need to be more consistent when commissioning palliative care services from providers (such as voluntary organisations) to ensure value for money is achieved.
Mr Henry said: “We recommend that the Scottish Government issues guidance to health boards on what should be included in their funding allocation to voluntary sector bodies. We are asking the Auditor General for Scotland to examine health boards’ local delivery plans to ensure that they capture all of the action points contained in Living and Dying Well and address the recommendations made in A Review of Palliative Care Services in Scotland. The Committee intends to return to the issue and ensure that promised improvements are delivered.”
More than 55,000 people die in Scotland each year (www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files1/stats/death-tab1-2006.xls). Palliative care is the range of care which aims to help patients and their families to maintain the best quality of life throughout their illness and to allow people to have a “good death”. Palliative care includes help with pain relief, nausea, depression and emotional and spiritual support.
Palliative care is provided by specialists working in hospices, hospitals and with patients in the community. Generalists, such as GPs, district nurses, hospital staff, staff in care homes and home carers, also provide palliative care.
The Public Audit Committee report has been published following the Committee’s inquiry into the Auditor General for Scotland’s report A Review of Palliative Care Services in Scotland and the Scottish Government’s subsequent national action plan for palliative care Living and Dying Well: a national action plan for palliative and end of life care in Scotland.
To access the full text of Living and Dying Well, please visit: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/10/01091608/1