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In May this year the Scottish Parliament decisively rejected a bill to legalise physician assisted suicide. This decision followed a very thorough committee inquiry by the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee. And now Scotland has announced a comprehensive review of its palliative care services to see what needs to be done to improve care for all who find themselves terminally ill.

During their inquiry members of the committee heard fears and past experiences of inadequate care described to them. They also heard clearly that distress does not have to be endured: with good care and meticulous attention to patients’ needs, their last months, weeks and days can be transformed. They heard repeatedly how people can live well and fully despite severe and life- limiting illness. In short, they heard what twenty-first century palliative care can do.

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