PALLIATIVE care in Scotland is amongst the best in Europe — but “we need to do more”, experts say.

End of life support was compared with that offered by other European countries by academics at Glasgow University.

Scotland was ranked seventh for the provision of inpatient care and hospital support teams, and came in at five for the home care available.

Until now statistics for Scotland had been included with UK data, but last year’s Scottish Atlas of Palliative Care has allowed experts to take a closer look for the first time.

Professor David Clark said: “The results are encouraging. Scotland is in the top ten EU countries for all three types of service — not many countries do as consistently well across the board.

“However, the level of coverage of specialist home care teams shows room for improvement.”

According to the research, published in the journal BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, the provision of services in Scotland is “well balanced and broadly reflective of that in the rest of the UK, with Scotland’s position being higher than the rest of the UK for inpatient and home care teams but lower for hospital support team”. The coverage provided by specialist palliative care hospital support staff was described as being at “optimal” level.

However, the study showed that there is “lower than recommended coverage” when it comes to the provision of inpatient units and home care teams.

The shift to provide more care at home or in a homely setting may have resulted in a lower than anticipated level of inpatient SPC beds, the report said.

However, it warned that community services must be “adequately resourced” if the policy of more home care is to work.

Public health minister Aileen Campbell called the results “a tribute to the compassion, commitment and dedication of those working across our health and social care services”, adding that the research will be used to help further develop the care on offer around the country.

Meanwhile, Richard Meade, of cancer charity Marie Curie in Scotland, said: “This important new study highlights that we need to do more to reach terminally ill people in their communities.

“Supporting people and developing resources in the community not only allows them to be cared for at home, where they would most like to be, but can also help reduce admissions and stays in hospital.

“We know a quarter of those who need palliative care in Scotland do not get it.

“The Scottish Government has committed to doubling palliative care services in the community and we look forward to seeing this progress.”