Palliative care for dying patients should be as good as that on offer to new mothers and their babies at the start of life, according to a new charity which is calling for hospitals to match the standards offered in hospices.

PATCH has been launched to promote end of life care in Scottish hospitals, where more than half of deaths take place. It has the backing of government, other hospices and professional bodies and was set up after the success of an acute palliative care unit in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, which was introduced in 2009 and is now NHS funded.

At present very few Scottish hospitals have acute palliative care beds for patients at the end of life, including Dumfries Royal Infirmary, Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline and Paisley's Royal Alexandra. Others offer reduced service, such as a team working 9am-5pm on weekdays only.

The new charity says all hospital patients should have access to such services, regardless of their illness.

Sir Michael Nairn Bt, chairman of PATCH, said: “PATCH is working hard to support the NHS and other healthcare organisations to identify hospital requirements and support to deliver them. PATCH believes Scottish hospitals should be as proud of end of life care for patients and families as they are of the care provided for families and babies at the beginning of life.”

Last week, a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked end-of-life care in the UK as the best in the world, particularly due to hospice care and free NHS services.

But at present only one in twenty patients die in a hospice, and providing access to specialist end of life care is not a requirement for hospitals.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that palliative and end of life care is delivered to the highest standards, in every situation, right across the country."

She said a new framework for palliative care, backed with £3.5m of funding over four years, would be published in the near future.