Viewpoint: Re-assessing Scotland's palliative care

RCGP Scotland chair Dr John Gillies looks at research aimed at enabling and pioneering good practice in end-of-life care.

Dr John Gillies: Research findings focused on patient involvement in decision-making and planning
Dr John Gillies: Research findings focused on patient involvement in decision-making and planning

End-of-life care has been steadily moving up the political and medical agendas in recent years as life expectancy continues to rise. We have seen new legislation in the forms of the Palliative Care (Scotland) Bill1 and End of Life Choices (Scotland) Bill, and also a raft of strategies on how we tackle the issue of providing consistent, high quality palliative care.

New research
Recent research has been conducted to look at defining exactly what ‘good’ end-of-life care looks like. The RCGP Scotland working group asked patients six questions on this topic to find out more.

The questions to both groups were the same:

  • What does 'good' end-of-life care mean to you?
  • What resources do you feel would be needed to make 'good' end-of-life care possible to achieve?
  • What skills or qualities do you feel are necessary to deliver 'good' end-of-life care?
  • In your opinion, what factors make 'good' end-of-life care difficult to achieve?
  • What do you think patients who require end-of-life care wish from their GP?
  • What resources and supports do you receive or require from your primary care team to deliver 'good' end-of-life care?

As you might anticipate the emerging themes focused on patient involvement in decision-making and planning, clinical competency and an empathetic approach to the psycho-social needs of the patient.

This may be a long journey of re-assessing the palliative care we provide but above all, working together to maintain high standards, particularly in care homes where we have repeatedly seen chilling reports of poor care.

You can find out more about the working group research:


1. Further details can be accessed at

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