Palliative Care Bill for terminally ill scrapped

Planned laws requiring Scottish health boards to provide specialist care for the terminally ill have been scrapped, amid concern over the legislation.

A backbench bill brought by SNP MSP Gil Paterson aimed to secure high-quality palliative care on the NHS.

But he has now withdrawn it, after Holyrood’s health committee said the move could make services less flexible.

Mr Paterson said his proposals had, nevertheless, sparked an important debate on palliative care.

The West of Scotland MSP brought forward his bill amid concern over varying levels of care across Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament’s health committee, which was scrutinising the bill, concluded that introducing a statutory duty to provide palliative care could lead to a loss of flexibility in service provision.

However, the committee also said the Scottish government should take action by the end of March next year to allow its existing palliative care action plan to be assessed.

Mr Paterson said: “My bill has been very worthwhile to date. The focus now must be reaching all who can benefit from palliative care, irrespective of life-limiting illness or where people live.”

Palliative care is largely provided to people suffering from cancer.

The withdrawal of the Palliative Care Bill came after Holyrood rejected proposals from independent MSP Margo MacDonald to give the terminally ill the right to chose when to die.