Scotland set to introduce free personal care for under-65s with dementia
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs introduces 'Frank's Law' member's bill with support of all parties except the SNP
Frank's Law cross party MSPs - credit Miles Briggs MSP
People under 65 with conditions like dementia are set to get free personal care in Scotland, after opposition parties joined together to support a member’s bill by Miles Briggs MSP.
‘Frank’s Law’, a campaign in memory of former Dundee United footballer Frank Kopel, will mean sufferers of dementia can access free care which, at present, is restricted to over-65s.
Briggs’ Scottish Conservative colleagues will be joined by Scottish Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens in backing the bill, meaning the bill is supported by a majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.
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The SNP has yet to give a position on the bill, but former Health Secretary Alex Neil has backed the plans. However, the fact the SNP has no overall majority means the law could pass without the government's backing.
Frank’s widow Amanda Kopel was at the parliament today to see the bill launched.
Briggs, who is the new Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, said: “The consultation on the bill proposal will go live next week and I hope that as many organisations and individuals as possible will take part to demonstrate the level of support for Frank’s Law.
“The aim is simple: to end the age discrimination that currently exists whereby under 65s with life limiting conditions do not qualify for free personal care but over 65s do.”
Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Anas Sarwar MSP said the party would back the bill.
"We know that people are facing barriers, such as charges to access services, after years of SNP cuts to local budgets,” he said.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton confirmed the bill had the “full support” of his party, while Scottish Green health spokesperson Alison Johnstone said her party would press for amendments to push for free personal care for all medical conditions.
“Social care is essential to people’s health, dignity, individual freedom and control of their lives and for that reason we’ll be giving our support for legislation on Frank’s Law,” she said.
“It is unacceptable that people in Scotland who need social care must worry about how to cover their care costs – like NHS healthcare, social care should be free at the point of use for all who need it, regardless of their age of medical condition.”
Palliative care charity Marie Curie’s policy & public affairs manager in Scotland, Susan Lowes, said personal care should be free and available to all people with a terminal illness.
“We’ll be urging the Scottish Government to ensure that care is given from the point of need and not just the last six months of life,” she said.
“Terminal illnesses do not follow a timeline and it’s crucial that any change in policy also considers that people can be living with a terminal illness for weeks, months and years, with varying levels of support needed.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said the Scottish Government was conducting a feasibility study on extending free personal care provision.
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