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Specialist palliative care shortage in Scotland

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Most people requiring palliative care in Scotland are treated by generalists not specialists, says a report from Audit Scotland.

It calls on the Scottish Government to provide better access to quality palliative throughout the country.

The report found that most of the time, care is provided by generalists such as district nurses, care workers, and families rather than specialist hospice staff and specialist palliative care teams. Specialist care still has an oncological bias, it found, yet people with many terminal illnesses would benefit from a more specialised approach.

Patients in some areas of Scotland are more likely to be overseen by specialists than in others - the number of specialist staff per 100,000 people is 4.1 in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, 7.3 in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and 11.2 in NHS Highland.

‘In many areas of Scotland the voluntary sector and the health service provide excellent and much appreciated care,’ noted Caroline Gardner, the Deputy Auditor General for Scotland.

‘But access to good quality palliative care varies across the country. The Scottish Government needs to address these issues in the palliative care action plan it is due to publish this October.’

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