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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Campaigner welcomes Sturgeon pledge over social care

Written by The Press Association

Scotland's new First Minister's pledge to crack down on councils over social care charging has been welcomed by motor neurone disease (MND) campaigner Gordon Aikman.

During her programme for government, Nicola Sturgeon said "no terminally-ill person in the last six months of life should be charged for care", and vowed that the Scottish Government would legislate if local government guidance was not adhered to.

Ms Sturgeon's pledge follows a meeting with Mr Aikman, who was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 29, at which she agreed to look at the provision of care and support for MND.

Mr Aikman, now 30, said: "I would rather Nicola Sturgeon outlawed care charges for terminally-ill patents right away but I welcome her vow to crack down on councils still breaking the guidance.

"Nobody in their dying days should have to worry about how they are going to pay for the care they need.

"I hope that councils which flout the rules hear the First Minister loud and clear and stop this cruel, penny-pinching policy."

Mr Aikman, former director of research at the pro-UK Better Together campaign, has called for MND research funding to be doubled, fast-tracked benefits and a cancellation of care charges.

He is also demanding that the number of specialist MND nurses be doubled from the current seven, with the posts paid for by the public purse rather than funded from charity donations.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: "I've known and worked alongside Gordon for years and it would be wonderful if his tragic diagnosis could leave a lasting, positive legacy for vulnerable people across Scotland."

She said Ms Sturgeon could go even further than her pledge today.

"Those under 65, living at home, increasingly have to contribute a higher proportion of their benefits towards care costs," she said.

"This care tax is a tax on the most vulnerable members of our communities. It's a tax we can and should abolish."

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