The Scottish Government’s national palliative care action plan ‘Living & Dying Well; Building on Progress’ (2011) recommended that ‘all Health Boards should have guidance in palliative care on identified topic areas and that Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) will work with Health Boards and the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care (SPPC) to agree a national guideline in each topic area and a mechanism for reviewing and updating its content’. A national short life working group had previously identified a list of 29 core palliative care topics upon which there should be national guidance.
To achieve this, a multi professional steering group was established by the SPPC including representation from the territorial health boards in Scotland. The steering group included 1 lay member and later engaged with other members of the public through a focus group.
Five multidisciplinary subgroups were established to draft the guidelines. These subgroups adopted methodology recommended by HIS, and utilised a decision making model first applied by SIGN. The AGREE II criteria were followed. Existing palliative care guidelines in Scotland were examined and supplemented by additional evidence provided by a collaboration of knowledge managers from across NHS Scotland.
Each of the guidelines was subject to an internal review process involving steering group and subgroup members. They were then sent for external review to established international experts within palliative care. These external reviewers were identified by a process which was independent of the steering group. Responses from the membership of the subgroup to the comments made by external reviewers are available by clicking here.
All the guidelines were subject to review by a team of medical writers. The medical writers ensured that the information was presented in a readable format with consistency in terminology.
The final stage in the development of the guidelines was an online consultation survey open to anyone. Following changes made as a result of this consultation the final version was approved by the steering group and launched on 18 November 2014. A record of the response to each individual comment is available from this link.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland will ensure that the guidelines are reviewed regularly to help maintain the currency of the information.