CHARITIES who look after dying patients have welcomed the Scottish Government’s new five-year plan to provide access to good quality palliative care for all.

The £3.5 million plan, published yesterday, sets out a vision where everyone who needs palliative and end-of-life care will have access to it, regardless of age, gender, diagnosis, social group or location by 2021.

People should also be given an opportunity to discuss their end of life care wishes before their condition deteriorates.

Health and social care staff will also be offered improved access to training, to support them to work with people and their families.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Many people will have gone through the extremely sad process of looking after a loved one towards the end of their lives.

“This will always be a difficult experience, but our health and social care services have a crucial role to play in making it as dignified as possible, and ensuring that the patient’s wishes and needs are taken into account.

“Scotland already has a very good reputation for our palliative and end-of-life care. But we are determined to keep improving. One of the key areas we want to improve is on the consistency of services.

“Through this new framework we want to make sure that everyone receives high quality palliative care – tailored to their own symptoms and life circumstances.

“This should be delivered to the same high standards, regardless of where you live, or what your illness is.”

Charities and organisations including Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice (PPWH) and the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care.

Macmillan’s Trisha Hatt said: “Macmillan will work with health and social care services on these recommendations, particularly on the key elements of education and training for staff.

“We need a cancer plan for Scotland to take forward these proposals to ensure everyone affected by cancer gets appropriate palliative care if they need it.”

Richard Meade, of Marie Curie in Scotland, said: “Marie Curie welcomes the publication of the Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care and its commitment to ensure that everyone in Scotland has access to palliative care when they need it.

“We now look forward to working with the Scottish Government, NHS boards, local authorities and other partners to deliver on this ambition.”

Rhona Baillie, chief executive of the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow said she was “very supportive” of the new framework.

She added: “I look forward to working in conjunction with all of the relative agencies to continue to deliver a very high standard of end-of-life care.

“The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice works with more than 1,200 patients and families every year, offering individualised, person-centred and family-focused care.

“Working in partnership, we ensure compassionate care is co-produced with patients and families and only after careful discussion to choose the most appropriate way to look after patients.

“We will continue to work closely with health and social care services.”