Scotland is recognised as providing world-leading palliative care. Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), as the only hospice service in Scotland for babies, children and young people, is committed to providing the best standard of care to those who need it.

The need for holistic palliative care for under-25s, that supports their health, social and emotional needs, was strengthened earlier this month when health secretary Shona Robison launched the findings from the Children in Scotland requiring Palliative Care report (ChiSP).

The study was undertaken by the University of York on behalf of the Managed Service Network for Children and Young People with Cancer and CHAS, and gives vital figures on the number of babies, children and young people in Scotland with palliative care needs, and also their needs and those of their families.

It is the first time such an in-depth research project of this nature has been carried out in Scotland and the results are fundamental in helping to ensure every affected family across the country has access to care as and when it is needed. The report shows that in 2013-14 there were 6,661 under-25s with a life-shortening condition, compared with 4,334 in 2003-4. The increase is due to a number of factors including advances in medicine, with many children now living longer than previously expected.

The study also highlights the need for improved awareness, access to and availability of palliative care services for under-25’s. Our experiences and those gathered from our integrated working with the NHS, local authorities and other health and social care providers have indicated that more needs to be done to reach a growing number of families whose children may benefit from more accessible palliative and end of life care.

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