While health is a devolved issue and the responsibility of the Scottish Government, I would like to reassure you that dementia remains a personal priority, as well as a priority for my MSP colleagues.
I was shocked to hear recently that fewer than half of those diagnosed with dementia in Scotland are receiving the necessary support. This is despite a Scottish Government target for all those newly diagnosed with dementia to have a minimum of 12 months’ post-diagnostic support. As I understand it, out of the 17,496 people who were diagnosed with dementia in 2016/17, just 8,178 were referred to the scheme.
Every year the number of people diagnosed with this cruel condition increases, and that should be matched by improvements in care and performance - anything other than that is unacceptable and questions must be asked.
I am, however, proud of my colleagues in Scotland who passionately pushed for “Frank’s Law” to be implemented. The Scottish Government consistently refused to introduce the law change to open up free personal care to dementia patients under the age of 65, despite strong lobbying from members of the public. Eventually, after shadow health secretary Miles Briggs launched a member’s bill to force through the move, the Scottish Government announced it would expand free personal care.
I understand there still remains a number of concerns over the policy being adequately funded by the Scottish Government, but this is a step forward in ending the discrimination for people under the age of 65 in Scotland who need help with personal care.