A new Scottish charity has been launched to promote end of life care specifically in hospitals.
PATCH (Palliation and the Caring Hospital) said it was the first charity to support and identify ways to deliver 24/7 specialist end of life care specifically for hospital patients.
“Only a minority of hospital patients in Scotland who could benefit from specialist care at the end of their lives actually receive it”
To do this, the new charity said it aimed to fund hospitals to provide resources such as dedicated beds, staff, advisory services and research.
PATCH said it was committed to raising the profile of end of life care in hospitals and hoped to work with government, hospices, other charities and professional bodies.
It follows research that suggests 55% of Scots die in hospital, many without specialist care.
The charity began as a local Tayside project in 2013, inspired by the care model developed in the acute palliative care unit at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, which was started in 2009 and is now NHS funded.
Very few other hospitals in Scotland have acute palliative care beds but they include Dumfries Royal Infirmary, Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, and the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.
Other hospitals have reduced services in place to, for example, a small advisory team who work 9am-5pm five days per week.
Last week, a 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.
“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”
However, providing access to specialist end of life care is not currently a requirement for hospitals in Scotland, noted the new charity.
Sir Michael Nairn, chair 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 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,” he said.
Health secretary Shona Robison said she looked forward to working with PATCH, adding that the Scottish government was “absolutely committed” to ensuring that palliative and end of life care was delivered to the highest standards everywhere.
“We are currently developing a new framework for palliative care, supported with £3.5m of funding over the next four years,” she said. “This new framework will be published in the near future.”