NHS must ensure a 'good death' for terminally ill, says MSP
Roseanna Cunningham, an SNP MSP, published a consultation on a bill that would place a legal duty on health boards to provide high-quality palliative care to those who need it.
The consultation document included examples of patients who suffered unnecessary pain before their deaths due to a lack of adequate end-of-life care. It pointed out that while patients with cancer often received good palliative care, those with other terminal illnesses were not properly cared for.
"Surely we all have a right for it to be as dignified and pain-free as possible," said Ms Cunningham, the MSP for Perth. In August, a report by Audit Scotland found an inconsistent approach to palliative care for different illnesses and called for improvements.
Marie Fallon, professor of palliative medicine at Edinburgh University and a director of the St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, in Clydebank, supported the proposed bill. "Although there are inherently subjective elements in what may be said to constitute a good death, it is essentially about being treated as an individual, with dignity and respect, being without pain and other symptoms," she said.