Dying Without Dignity

As part of St David’s day Marie Curie were in parliament encouraging MPs to get behind the daffodil this March. Marie Curie are working to improve access to end of life care and to make sure that everyone has access to the care that they need.

This is significant at a time when the UK Parliament are debating their ‘Estimates’, the means by which the government seeks authority from Parliament for its own spending each year. It is relevant to me as the committee I sit on, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, is currently looking into Dying Without Dignity. It is important because end of life care is something that will effect every one of us.

Every year about 31,000 people in Scotland alone are told they have cancer, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer. This number is predicted to rise to 40,000 cases by 2027, largely as a result of the ageing population.

Cancer is a clinical priortiy for the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland. In 2008, the Scottish Government published Better Cancer Care: An Action Plan which outlined priorities to improve cancer services and support. A progress report was published in 2010 in which further priorities for action were identified and the Scottish Cancer Task Force is responsible for taking them forward.

Other recent developments include –
2012: the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing launched the Detect Cancer Early programme to improve cancer survival through earlier diagnosis and treatment.
2013: the Transforming Care After Treatment programme was launched to support a redesign of care following active treatment of cancer.
Dec 2015: the Scottish Government published the Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care. The framework outlines key actions to allow everyone in Scotland including those with a terminal cancer diagnosis to receive services that respond to their individual palliative and end of life care needs.