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Thank you—so long as I do not have to join in. Like some of my colleagues here, I could easily clear a room when I sing.
There is increasing research that shows that singing in a choir can benefit people in a number of ways. As well as being enjoyable, it brings people together and supports physical and mental wellbeing. In particular, a growing body of research suggests that group singing is especially good for people who are living with a long-term lung condition such as COPD.
We have heard from people that singing reduces their feelings of being short of breath, helps them to feel more in control of their breathing and helps them to manage their symptoms better.
I commend those in the Cheyne Gang for their great work. It is fantastic to hear that they help more than 100 members in Edinburgh, Leith, Innerleithen, Helensburgh and Forfar, as well as in areas of Glasgow close to my constituency, and a group in Coldstream. The British Lung Foundation and Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland also support many other singing groups across Scotland.
I encourage members to look at the local information system for Scotland—ALISS—which is funded by the Scottish Government through the Health and Social Care Alliance. ALISS is a web-based resource that maps community assets and connects people who are living with long-term conditions with sources of help and support in their communities, including many singing groups across Scotland.
The Cheyne Gang is part of that great resource. Singing is an excellent example of helping people to self-manage their conditions. Scotland has been a world leader in supporting people to live well and on their own terms with whatever conditions they may have, since our self-management strategy was published in 2008.
Self-management puts people who are living with long-term conditions in the driving seat of their care.
One key element of self-management for people with COPD is pulmonary rehabilitation. It is already a key recommendation in national clinical guidelines that that evidence-based programme be provided, and we want NHS boards to increase patients’ access to it. We will do that through implementation of the first respiratory care action plan for Scotland. The draft plan, which sets out key priorities in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of long-term respiratory conditions, has been published for consultation. We know that true change will happen only through working with others, hearing from them about their experiences, good and bad, and learning about what we could do differently and what we must do better. I was pleased to hear that Cheyne Gang members have fed back their experiences through the consultation.
We must also ensure that we focus on preventing the development of long-term respiratory conditions when we can. That goes far beyond those organisations that provide care and treatment. The future of our ability to live well rests with all parts of society. We must break through the traditional boundaries and ensure that health—good health—is everybody’s business. As we progress with our vision for public health reform, we will continue to work across other parts of Government as we strive to improve air quality, provide warm homes, tackle fuel poverty and continue to support people to stop smoking and eat healthily.
I want to recognise the strong and dynamic third sector that exists in Scotland, which plays a crucial role in the wellbeing of our communities. The Cheyne Gang is no exception, which is why I praise the fantastic work of that group and am grateful to its staff and volunteers for everything that they do to make that work possible.
Meeting closed at 19:11.