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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bill to give the terminally ill rights to range of quality care

The Herald (Scotland) reports on an attempt to provide that all terminally ill patients would have a right to quality treatment at the end of their life in Scotland.

A new Bill in the Scottish Parliament aims to introduce access to palliative care in all areas of Scotland.

SNP MSP Roseanna Cunningham said yesterday she wants to place a statutory obligation on every health board to provide such care.

She is concerned that while cancer sufferers have access to provision of that kind, only a small minority of people with other life-threatening diseases get palliative care.

Ms Cunningham's member's bill, if accepted by the Scottish Parliament, would enable all patients with a range of conditions to have a choice of care at home, in hospital or a hospice.

As well as cancer sufferers, people with chronic illnesses such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, HIV, heart failure and dementia would qualify.

Ms Cunningham said: "Death does not come at the time of our choosing but it does come to us all.

"Surely we all have a right for it to be as dignified and pain-free as possible."

Such efforts are surely welcome when the prevailing opinion is to make suicide easier.