New research has projected that up to 95% of all people who die in Scotland may need palliative care by 2040, with over 60,000 people projected to be dying with a terminal condition.

The number of Scots dying from multiple diseases is also set to increase by 82% by 2040.

Led by researchers at Marie Curie and the University of Edinburgh, the research projects an increase in the number of people dying from cancer and dementia, but a decrease in deaths from organ failure in the next 20 years. People aged 85 and over are projected to account for nearly half (47%) of those dying with palliative care needs by 2040.

Following this research, Marie Curie, has today published its manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. The charity is calling on all parties to make palliative care a priority for the next Scottish Government with a new national strategy and dedicated national leadership to enable Scotland to meet the growing changes in demography and ensure dying people get the best possible support and care they need.

Dr Anne Finucane, Marie Curie Senior Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our research shows the vast majority of people dying now, and in the future, may benefit from palliative care. This includes a substantial number of older people dying from multiple diseases.

“More people are dying from more than one disease indicating greater symptom burden and the need for better coordinated care. Continued investment in digital systems and shared electronic health and social care records will be essential to meet the palliative care needs of the Scottish population.”

Richard Meade, Head of Public Affairs, Scotland, Marie Curie, commented: “Everyone will experience dying, death and bereavement at some point in their lives and people deserve the best possible care and support for them, their family and friends. Unfortunately, at the moment, many miss out on some or all of the care they need. With more and more people projected to be dying every year needing a palliative approach and with increasing levels of complexity, we must plan to make sure we close the care gap before it starts to grow.

“The next Scottish Government must work towards a Scotland where dying, death and bereavement is talked about openly, where people can plan and discuss their care and preferences, and everyone affected has the best possible end of life experience which reflects what is most important to them.”

Professor Scott Murray from the University of Edinburgh, Primary Palliative Care Research Group, said:

“We have evidence that deaths for people with dementia are set to more than double by 2040. The government should thus target any new health and social care resource towards improving care for older people living and dying at home and in care homes, where we predict that one-third of people will die by 2040. This will also let more people die where they wish, and prevent many hospital admissions.”