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The level of provision of specialist palliative care services in Scotland: an international benchmarking study
  1. Hamilton Inbadas1,
  2. José Miguel Carrasco1,2,
  3. Michelle Gillies3 and
  4. David Clark1
  1. 1 University of Glasgow, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Dumfries, UK
  2. 2 University of Navarra, ATLANTES Research Programme, Institute for Culture and Society, Navarra Institute for Health Research, Pamplona, Spain
  3. 3 Scottish Public Health Network, NHS Health Scotland, Scotland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hamilton Inbadas, Rutherford/McCowan Building, Bankend Road, Dumfries DG1 4ZL, Scotland, UK; Hamilton.Inbadas{at}


Objectives Comparative benchmarking of specialist palliative care (SPC) services across jurisdictions can be used to assess the adequacy of provision. Published in 2016, the Scottish Atlas of Palliative Care unlocks the possibility of benchmarking Scotland’s provision against other European Union (EU) countries. Our objectives were to describe the provision of SPC services in Scotland and compare this with other EU countries, assessing coverage against European norms.

Methods We conducted a secondary analysis of data collected as part for the Scottish Atlas by structured telephone (n=33) or online (n=3) survey with informants from 14 territorial health boards and 15 hospices who provided information about SPC services in their locality. National-level Scottish data were compared with data from other EU countries allowing ranking for each service type and service coverage as calculated against European Association for Palliative Care norms.

Results Scotland had a total of 23 SPC inpatient units containing 349 beds, 27 SPC hospital support teams and 38 SPC home care teams. Relative to other EU countries, Scotland ranked seventh for provision of SPC inpatient units and hospital support teams, and fifth for home care teams. Coverage for these services was 85%, 100% and 72%, respectively.

Conclusion Scotland is positioned among the top 10 EU countries for the level of provision of SPC services. National policy in Scotland has focused on the delivery of palliative care at home or in a homely setting. These data support a focus on developing services in community settings to meet Scotland’s policy ambitions.

  • specialist palliative care
  • service provision
  • coverage
  • EU comparisons
  • scotland

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  • Contributors HI, JMC and DC participated in the conception and design of the study. HI and MG participated in the data acquisition. HI and JMC participated in data analysis, interpretation and drafting of the article. JMC, MG and DC provided critical revisions and additions of important intellectual content. All authors approved the final version of the article.

  • Funding This work was supported by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award (grant number 103319/Z/13/Z) and a grant from the Scottish Government.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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