THOUSANDS of elderly patients in Scotland are missing out on end-of-life care, it has emerged.

Concerns have been raised after new research found that those aged 70 and over have more unmet pain and less access to palliative treatment than younger patients.

It emerged that 11,000 of the 40,000 people needing the treatment in Scotland are missing out every year.

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The study, carried out by the University of Edinburgh and terminal illness charity Marie Curie, examined the end-of-life experiences of 65 patients in Scotland who were diagnosed with brain and bowel cancer, liver failure and frailty.

Researchers have said the findings suggest the introduction of a palliative care approach did not happen for many older people because they were not aware of their options.

Meanwhile, some healthcare professionals did not think it relevant for elderly patients.

The study concluded this was unlikely to be an “ageist response”, but rather there were “less clear signs which would have indicated a patient’s condition might soon deteriorate and that they would now benefit from palliative care”.

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It highlights there can be a lack of a clear diagnosis of dying, as people aged 70 and over are viewed merely as old or infirm.

Professor Scott Murray, the report’s co-author, said: “People need to know that palliative care has something to offer everyone so that they can live as well as possible wherever they are.”

SNP MSP Kate Forbes said more must be done to introduce palliative care options to elderly patients. She added: “Of the 54,000 people who die every year in Scotland, about 40,000 need palliative care and it is deeply concerning that 11,000 are missing out on that care.”

“This new research raises some important points, particularly that practitioners should be given specialist training to address this issue and that health and social care partnerships must consider the palliative care needs of older people when designing these services - which will help patients and families alike.

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“The Scottish Government’s strategic framework for action on palliative and end of life care recognises a need to focus more on palliative care for older people and I wholeheartedly support its vision that everyone who needs such care will have access to it by 2021.”