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Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal

– in the Scottish Parliament on 11th March 2020.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-20400, in the name of Linda Fabiani, on Marie Curie’s great daffodil appeal 2020. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal 2020, which runs throughout March; understands that donations are given and daffodil pins worn in memory of someone who has died, or to show support for Marie Curie services; recognises the dedication, hard work and contribution of volunteers across Scotland, including in East Kilbride, who raise funds and awareness during the appeal every year to support Marie Curie’s services; commends the vital care and support that the charity provides in Scotland to over 7,500 people and their families every year, in their own homes across 31 local authorities, in Marie Curie hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow and through the West Lothian Community Service; praises its information and support services, which are available for everyone affected by a terminal illness and its volunteer helper services, which provide emotional support, companionship and information to people, carers and families; notes the view that, as everyone is affected by dying, death and bereavement, all people deserve the best possible experience to deal with this, reflecting what is most important to them, and welcomes Marie Curie’s ambition to enable this; recognises that it works to improve the lives of all people living with a terminal illness, their carers and families; believes that wearing the daffodil pin unites millions of people who believe that dying people should get the care and support that they need and desire, and notes the calls encouraging as many people as possible to support the Marie Curie campaign in March.

Photo of Linda Fabiani Linda Fabiani Scottish National Party

It is very strange to be on this side of the chamber for this year’s debate when I was in the Presiding Officer’s seat for last year’s debate, which was led by my colleague Gordon MacDonald. I am glad to be leading this year’s debate, and I am glad to see so many Marie Curie volunteers in the public gallery. [

Applause

.]

The debate on Marie Curie’s great daffodil appeal has become an annual event; it is accompanied by an annual reception, which is always great. I have not done this before but, this year, I want to thank Richard Meade of Marie Curie’s central office for all the work that he does to make sure that the appeal takes place every year. I have no doubt that, wherever he is sitting, he will be blushing.

The motion that I lodged talks about the campaign that we have every March, which involves the wearing of daffodil pins in memory of someone who has died or to show support for Marie Curie services. The pins are also worn—for me, this is extremely important—in recognition of the dedication, the hard work and the contribution of volunteers all over Scotland.

Because the care that Marie Curie provides touches people so much, the organisation has many volunteers who, every year, provide vital care and support to more than 7,500 people and their families in their own homes across 31 local authorities in Scotland. On top of that, there are the information and support services that are available to everyone who is affected by a terminal illness.

The helper services provide emotional support, companionship and information to carers and families. After all, everyone is affected by death and bereavement, and everyone deserves the best possible experience in dealing with that, reflecting what is most important to them. Marie Curie’s ambition to enable that to happen is very important, and it shows in all the work that it does, whether it is lobbying MSPs, speaking to the Government, encouraging people to volunteer or providing the training to volunteers and professional staff, including nursing staff, who carry out the vital services. Marie Curie has ambition and commitment to the individual, which is very important, as is the daffodil pin, which unites millions of people who believe in those ideals and who do that extra bit of campaigning every March.

I keep mentioning the volunteers, because they are crucial. I did a bit of research and looked up the Marie Curie website to see what volunteers do, because I thought that there might be something that I could do instead of just bumping my gums every year, putting money in a collecting tin and standing with a Marie Curie hat on every so often. I thought it might be time for me to commit to doing something more.

The first thing that I saw on the website was running and cycling, and I thought, “No way.” That is not me. I can maybe do a wee bit of walking, and I might even do a wee bit of trekking and hiking if it is flat. I am absolutely not doing swimming; it is too cold and wet. I had no idea what gaming was until I clicked on the link, but I do not think that I would be very good at that either. I thought the overseas challenge sounded quite nice. I could go on holiday and pay the equivalent into Marie Curie, but then I realised that I would have to go on holiday to run, cycle, walk or hike, and I thought, “I’m not doing that either.”

Then I saw the Marie Curie tea mornings, coffee afternoons and home-baking competitions, and I thought, “I could do that.” It sounds quite good to sit with a cup of tea and speak with caring people who are all coming together to do good work. That led me to ask some of my colleagues what they were doing to be part of this wonderful movement. Fiona Hyslop is like me: she does not want to walk, run, hike or swim, so she is going to a tea party at Armadale Methodist church to stuff her face with home baking.

Photo of Linda Fabiani Linda Fabiani Scottish National Party

Oh, sorry! Fiona is organising it. I will tell you one thing for sure: if I know her, she will be buying the baking out of Marks and Spencer. You will notice that she is not arguing that point.

Bob Doris, who is the convener of the cross-party group on palliative care, is quite upset about not being able to be here tonight, but he wants everyone to know that the Marie Curie hospice at Stobhill in his constituency does absolutely wonderful work.

Alison Johnstone came to have a word with me just before she left the chamber. She said that, recently, the Marie Curie hospice in Edinburgh had given wonderful care to a friend of hers.

Fairly recently, Sandra White visited a Marie Curie hospice twice or three times a week to visit a mutual friend, Liz Quinn, and she was so impressed with the work that is carried out there.

I am looking at the time, Presiding Officer. You know that I never like to go over time, so I will throw away about 50 sheets of my speech.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I will give you a couple more minutes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I do not know whether that was a wise decision. We will find out.

Photo of Linda Fabiani Linda Fabiani Scottish National Party

I would like to give a couple more facts about the great daffodil appeal, because it is on the hook of that appeal that we have this annual debate. Scotland raises about £700,000 each year through the appeal, which sounds like an awful lot of money, but Marie Curie needs to raise more than £15 million every year to support its activities and services in Scotland. In central Scotland alone, there are 48 Marie Curie nurses providing care in NHS Lanarkshire, which is a lot of home visits and a lot of people being supported.

Marie Curie does absolutely loads in my constituency, East Kilbride, and the fundraising group there has gone from strength to strength. The only reason that they are not here tonight is because they had already made the commitment to make 14 collections in the two Morrisons stores in East Kilbride. They do wonderful work.

I have a couple of asks of the Government, which I hope that the minister will respond positively to. Everyone recognises the need for palliative care and a palliative care plan, but we should never be complacent about that. I back Marie Curie’s call for a commitment to a new national action plan. David Stewart has previously talked about the need to ensure that each individual gets the care that is best for them and their family, whether that be at home or in a hospice. Let us commit to looking again at a national action plan and co-designing it with those who know best how to do it.

We now have health and social care partnerships, which are so important to every community. I want to look at the requirement on them to publish local palliative and end-of-life care action plans and to make such plans a high priority.

Our demographics are changing and people are living longer, which is welcome, but we need to look at how best to manage that to the benefit of everyone. Everyone who volunteers for the Marie Curie charity takes that very seriously—I thank them for that. [

Applause

.]

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I say to those in the public gallery that I understand why they are applauding, but it is not permitted. Only members may applaud.

Photo of Bill Kidd Bill Kidd Scottish National Party

I thank Linda Fabiani for shining a light on this year’s Marie Curie great daffodil appeal. The appeal runs throughout March and provides members of the public with the opportunity to support Marie Curie by donating money for a daffodil pin. The pins are worn in memory of someone who has died, or to show support for Marie Curie’s invaluable services and research.

As an organisation, Marie Curie cares for people in one of the most precious periods of life—their final years, months or days. By being provided with the best possible support at that time, patients are shown love, care and respect. That type of care—care in its truest sense—is incredibly important for people in that precious and important time in their lives, and many people in Scotland need palliative end-of-life care.

Raising awareness and donating money are relevant to the vast majority of Scots, because they directly benefit them or one of their loved ones. Of the 12,650 people who die in Glasgow every year, 75 per cent need palliative care. That high proportion of palliative-care need among the dying is the same in Scotland as a whole. We can see from that statistic that the great daffodil appeal is an incredibly meaningful movement.

Services that are provided by Marie Curie and its partners give dignity to people by providing choice to patients and by listening to them about their needs and preferences. There are many examples that illustrate the impact of that. One such example comes from the area that is covered by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, where 97 per cent of patients who are supported by Marie Curie are able to die in their place of choice, rather than having no options.

Facilitation of care and support at home is done by the fantastic Marie Curie nurses. They often stay with patients for hours on end—even through the night—to provide the care that is necessary to allow the patients to remain in their home. That nursing service is run by Marie Curie through the national health service, so it is free. It means that people are given dignity by being able to choose at-home care, should that be their preference, and it means that the overall cost of care is minimised. Therefore, people from all backgrounds are able to make end-of-life care choices that suit their needs and wishes. The Marie Curie hospices in Glasgow and Edinburgh are examples of that provision of choice and dignity.

Marie Curie also works in collaboration with partners including Macmillan Cancer Support nurses. They combine their efforts to offer exceptional support and pain-management advice to patients with terminal cancer. I acknowledge the work of all the Macmillan Cancer Support volunteers at the Beatson west of Scotland cancer centre in my constituency. They work with Maggie’s and Marie Curie to provide the best possible support for cancer patients from across Scotland.

As my colleague Linda Fabiani said, in order to keep all that fantastic work going, Marie Curie needs our support—it must raise £15 million every year in order to run all its services in Scotland. The great daffodil appeal is a fantastic way to contribute to that, so I encourage everyone to donate and pick up a daffodil today in support of the nurses, volunteers and researchers, and in memory of loved ones who have passed away.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

The Presiding Officer sneezing is not an auspicious start for me.

I thank Linda Fabiani for bringing the debate to Parliament. I am proud of all our charities. I recommend that she should not get on a bicycle, or she will end up like me.—[

Laughter

.]

The debate caused a stushie at home. When I told my wife that I was speaking in it, she wondered whether—because she is the chair of the local Macmillan fundraising group—I was wandering. However, I pointed out that, as she knows, this is not a time for splits, because every organisation works hand-in-hand on such issues.

In 2003, my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and died a year later at home. In 2005, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and died that year at home. In 2006, my father was diagnosed with cancer and died in hospital, because the doctor considered it to be too risky to send him home. To this day, I struggle to understand what the risks were, because we all knew what the end of the journey would be, and so did he.

Those events prove that bad things often happen in threes, but more important is that they proved to me three other points: first, that the skill of doctors and nurses makes pain largely optional; secondly, that with the aid of charities such as Marie Curie patients can come home to die if they want to; and, thirdly, that we need substantial investment in community based care. I will look briefly at each of those issues.

First, is pain optional? In this day and age, we are blessed with medicines that mean that pain is almost optional. The days of being told to grit our teeth and take the pain are, in most cases, a thing of the past. They are not quite totally a thing of the past, because it often takes time to get the dosage correct for a patient. To do that, we need the help of nurses such as the Marie Curie nurses who provide specialist care based on in-depth knowledge and experience.

Secondly, I turn to the reasons why we should promote people going home to die. If patients want to go home to die, it is a duty of a civilised society to make that happen. Not everyone wants to go home to die and not every family is equipped to make that possible for their loved ones. However, why we would deny a person the ability to do so because a doctor deems the risks to be too high is beyond my comprehension. We need to change the views of doctors.

The third issue is that substantial investment in local care is needed. In the past few years, there have been clear pressures on our health service and a reduction in local healthcare professionals such as community nurses and home visitors. That needs to be reversed: we need to increase investment in local services, especially if we are to cope with an ageing population that will result in an increase of about 10,000 people dying each year in Scotland.

For those reasons, I want to commend all the work that Marie Curie does to make a difference and to support those who need its help. Marie Curie can do that only because of the extraordinary work of its fundraisers. For example, in Inverness a fire walk raised £13,000, an art sale raised £12,000 and a plant sale raised £6,000. Last year alone, £39,000 was raised. I am told that, already this year, fundraisers in the area have raised £26,000, which is seriously impressive and seriously needed. I have told my wife that she and her committee need to do a lot better.

I welcome the debate and stand in awe of all that the people who are involved with Marie Curie do. They are impressive and inspirational, and Parliament and Scotland should applaud them. I do.

Photo of Rona Mackay Rona Mackay Scottish National Party

Marie Curie is a household name, and rightly so. Its nurses and volunteers give people with a terminal illness choice and dignity at the end of life. This fantastic charity makes it possible for people faced with a terminal illness to have the choice to die peacefully, in their own home, surrounded by the people they love. We simply cannot put a price on the work that it does. In Scotland, in 2018-19, 7,595 people with a terminal illness were cared for at home by Marie Curie nurses, but the reality is that one in four people in Scotland are still missing out on palliative care at the end of their lives.

We are all living longer, and it is estimated that around 43,000 people die each year in Scotland needing palliative care—that is around 75 per cent of all deaths. Sadly, health inequalities exist, with people from deprived areas, people with a minority ethnic background, people who are socially isolated or live alone and people who identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community being just some of the groups who are less likely to ask for help.

Everyone deserves a dignified death. Around 50 per cent of people in Scotland die in hospitals, but the majority of people would like to die at home, with the appropriate care. That is the care that Marie Curie offers: care that allows them and their families, despite a terminal diagnosis, to have the best quality of life.

The need for Marie Curie has never been greater, and that is why we should support the great daffodil appeal, which is Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign. From wearing a daffodil pin to organising large gala dinners and small bake sales, there are countless ways for people to get involved.

In my constituency, Marie Curie fundraising groups in Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch, Lenzie and Bearsden do fantastic work. They are just some of the 85 groups in Scotland that organise collections and tea parties. Alongside that, they speak in schools, clubs, groups and associations in the local area, and they always welcome support from the local community to help them grow and increase the support that they give to Marie Curie. I want to give a huge shout-out to the amazing volunteers who do that incredible work. They are fantastic.

However, 11,000 people who need palliative care in Scotland each year cannot access it, and the charity needs to raise £15 million a year to support its services. It is calling on the Scottish Government to commit to a new national action plan for palliative care following 2021—one that is co-designed with key stakeholders, including all health and social care partnerships, practitioners and third sector organisations.

After international women’s day last Sunday, I would like to conclude by remembering the remarkable woman who made all this possible. Marie Curie was one of five children, born into a poor family in Poland in 1867. She had an insatiable appetite for learning and, through sheer determination, she entered Sorbonne University in Paris, where she read physics and mathematics. Her discovery of radium and polonium, for which she and her husband Pierre Curie won the Nobel prize, has saved millions of lives throughout the world. Indeed, next month sees the release of a new film about her life: “Radioactive”, starring Rosamund Pike, which I am sure will be fascinating. I think that, in it, we also learn the little-known fact that her daughter Irène was awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry for discovering that radioactive atoms could be created artificially.

Let us carry on these amazing women’s legacy by helping Marie Curie and its fantastic army of volunteers to care for more people. I urge everyone to get involved in the great daffodil appeal in any way that they can. Every daffodil counts.

Photo of David Stewart David Stewart Labour

I congratulate Linda Fabiani on securing the debate and thank her for her very thoughtful speech. I am glad to have the opportunity to speak in the debate, because on Friday evening I attended a Marie Curie fundraiser at the Farr estate near Inverness. It was a James Bond themed evening that made thousands of pounds for the charity. I was shaken but not stirred by the event. [

Laughter

.] Members could perhaps say that I am the man with the golden pun. [

Laughter

.] I will make no more jokes, Presiding Officer.

On a serious note, I congratulate Marie Curie on all the sterling work that its nurses and volunteers do, not just in my region of the Highlands and Islands but across Scotland and the UK. I welcome all the volunteers who are in the gallery this evening.

The daffodil appeal began here in Scotland in 1986, and it soon evolved into the widely known fundraising tradition that we are commemorating today. It is important that we appreciate Marie Curie’s success in caring for the estimated 7,600 people in Scotland with a terminal illness and that, as we look to the future, we support the organisation’s fundraising endeavours.

What began in 1948 as a small foundation whose first big donation was a diamond engagement ring became Marie Curie, which is a massive and truly positive force for good when it comes to healthcare and medical research. As we heard from Edward Mountain, in the Highlands and Islands, Marie Curie has been a fierce advocate for the right to die at home—a cause that I have enthusiastically endorsed—and it has been able to provide effective end-of-life care to cancer patients and those with other terminal illnesses.

In 2015, Marie Curie’s 33 Highland nurses provided nearly 20,000 hours of care free of charge to 379 patients. In 2018-19, my region was fortunate enough to have 222 Marie Curie volunteers and 38 Highland nurses, who continued to provide exceptional healthcare services. According to the recent Marie Curie briefing, it has supported at least 89 per cent of patients in Highland, Grampian, Orkney and the Western Isles in dying in the place of their choice.

There are many fundraising groups across the region that are enthusiastic supporters of the organisation and the great daffodil appeal. Mother-and-daughter duo Kate and Olivia Howatson-Kerr walked all the way along the north coast 500 route to raise money for medical charities including Marie Curie, and their 29-day fundraising journey raised over £9,000.

Currently, Marie Curie supporters in Inverness are actively recruiting more volunteers to help with fundraising for the great daffodil appeal. One of the Inverness volunteers, Margaret Henderson, describing her experiences working on the campaign, said:

“I’ve met so many kind and interesting people along the way, many of whom have directly benefited from the care provided by Marie Curie nurses in their own homes.”

The Inverness fundraising group, which raised over £39,000 for charity last year, has already raised £26,000 this year, and it is organising multiple events for the great daffodil appeal.

However, what speaks to Marie Curie’s success and its reputation for kindness the most is perhaps the support that it provides to families, as well as to those who are reaching their final days. Recently, Brian Hanslip shared his experiences of a Marie Curie hospice and how the nurses took care of his daughter Charlotte in her final days. He said:

“The staff were like family to us. Every time you stepped through that door there were smiles and hugs”.

The success of the fundraiser is extremely important in aiding Marie Curie in its mission to support everyone who wishes to die at home, surrounded by their community of family and friends.

I will conclude, Presiding Officer, as you are giving me that look again. [

Laughter

.] Former US president Barack Obama once said:

“We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort.”

I applaud Marie Curie for the incredible work that it does and wish it luck and support for the great daffodil appeal 2020.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

You have given away the trick. I put my glasses on when I am looking to you to conclude.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party

I sincerely thank my friend and colleague Linda Fabiani for bringing this debate to the chamber. Her speech was not only thoughtful, as David Stewart said, but humorous.

As Linda Fabiani said, in recent years we have debated Marie Curie’s great daffodil appeal annually. My memory is not as good as it used to be, but I recall that I have had the opportunity to take part in at least some of those debates. Indeed, I am fond of reminding colleagues that I think that I was the first MSP to host a Marie Curie blooming great tea party, with very kind donations of home baking. I will get that boast out of the way, because I am a modest sort of guy.

I thank Edward Mountain for sharing his story from his background—others may do the same. It was very moving.

I will recognise the origins of this fantastic charity in a slightly different way from others. A hospital in Hampstead named after Marie Curie was completed in 1930 and opened by the then Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin. The hospital specialised in radiological treatment for women who suffered from a range of diseases, including cancer. The committee involved decided to retain the name Marie Curie in the charitable medical field. By 1950, the appeal that was launched had raised £30,000 and the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation was born. Today it is known simply as Marie Curie.

We recently celebrated international women’s day, which is a tribute to the power and contribution of women across the globe. One of those important women was certainly Marie Sklodowska Curie. Born in Poland, she became a French citizen by marriage. She was a Nobel prize-winning physicist—the first woman to win the award.

Marie Curie developed the theory of radioactivity, discovered polonium and radium—as Rona Mackay rightly pointed out—and developed them for use in mobile radiography units for troops during the first world war. However, her passion killed her. In 1934, at the age of 66, she died in France from an auto-immune disease that was caused by overexposure to radiation during her research. She was a truly remarkable woman, and it is fitting that the charity that we are celebrating today carries her name as it conducts its vital work for people.

We are all aware of the work that the Marie Curie charity carries out in our constituencies and regions. All of us will know someone who goes through an end-of-life experience. That experience does not just affect one person but is a very difficult situation for the entire family. Marie Curie staff provide help and advice to people who are going through those experiences. The nurses provide free one-to-one nursing for patients with terminal illnesses, which can be overnight or even at very short notice—it is a very flexible service, reflecting the often unpredictable nature of terminal illness.

For many people, just knowing that the support is there is a great comfort. The families of terminally ill loved ones, who are juggling their own lives while sorting out the lives of their loved ones, also find the support a great help at that crucial time. I suspect that the Marie Curie services of its nurses will be required in this country and other places over the next few weeks, and probably in a way in which they have never been required for some time, as a result of the coronavirus. I will be thinking about the nurses, as they help us through the difficult days to come.

I will say a little about local fundraising. In my constituency, Marie Curie is blessed with a strong base of volunteers who raise funds from members of the public. The Stirling fundraising group has raised £42,000 since 2013—they are the fantastic volunteers who Linda Fabiani was quite right to concentrate on in her speech—through the efforts of the Marie Curie shop on the high street and fundraising activities in local supermarkets. They will be at Stirling farmers market in April.

Everyone deserves dignity and respect in their final days and hours. We should all consider what we can do to help through the great daffodil appeal. I thank everyone who is involved in the Marie Curie organisation for their amazing work.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

After last year’s interregnum, I join Bruce Crawford in welcoming back my friend Linda Fabiani to her rightful place in the body of the chamber, leading the annual members’ business debate on the great daffodil appeal in aid of Marie Curie. I mean no disrespect to her colleague Gordon MacDonald, who did sterling work last year, but it felt rather strange not having Linda Fabiani setting the scene and regaling us with her fundraising exploits—even if they appeared to accumulate rather than expend calories along the way.

I add my voice to the tributes that have already been paid to the outstanding and selfless work by Marie Curie nurses, staff and volunteers on behalf of people with a terminal illness and their families. They genuinely help to provide dignity in dying.

Although many people are able to access palliative care, that is not always the case. It must concern us all that around 11,000 people in Scotland who need palliative care struggle to access it. With annual death rates on the rise, the number of people who are unable to access the end-of-life care that they need will increase unless steps are taken to address the issue. Commendably, the Government’s action plan commits to ensuring that, by 2021, everyone who needs palliative care will get it. However, at this stage, that looks like a tall ask. It will require greater priority from health and social care partnerships as well as resourcing from the Government.

As we, hopefully, progress toward meeting that target, we also need to address the inequality of access and the difficulties that are faced by particular groups: those who are aged over 85, those who live alone, ethnic minority groups and those who are from deprived communities, as Rona Mackay suggested. We also need to address the large disparities between access for those who are affected by cancer and those with other terminal conditions, such as dementia, motor neurone disease and heart failure. All of those issues underscore the need for the revised action plan that Marie Curie has asked for.

As I have done in previous debates, I acknowledge the efforts of those who are responsible for delivering Marie Curie services in Orkney, in particular. Although the number inevitably remains relatively small, I was heartened to see that six people were supported over the past year—all of whom were able to die in their place of choice—and that numbers continue to rise. All of that helps to explain why additional Marie Curie nurses are being recruited, which I am delighted, although not surprised, to hear, given the feedback from those who have benefited from the service up to this point.

Meeting the need in future will require close collaboration by Marie Curie with general practitioners and other relevant local services—a genuine partnership between the public and third sectors. I know from speaking to Linda Lennie and Sara Duncan, who are two of Marie Curie's fabulous team of volunteers in Orkney and who are in the gallery this evening, that they are very keen to see such a partnership develop during the years ahead.

More broadly, across the community in Orkney there continues to be strong and growing support for the work that Marie Curie does locally. That continues to be reflected in the success of fundraising efforts by local volunteers such as Linda and Sara, but it also prompts a better understanding and awareness of what Marie Curie offers. That is very much welcomed.

I offer all the Marie Curie nurses, staff and volunteers, in Orkney and across the country, my heartfelt thanks for the exceptional work that they do in allowing people to die with dignity and in the place of their choice. My thanks also to Madame Daffodil herself, Linda Fabiani, for allowing this evening’s debate to take place, and for the chance for all of us to bump our gums in the interest of the best of causes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Due to the number of members who wish to speak in this debate, I am minded to accept a motion without notice, under rule 8.14.3, to extend the debate by up to 30 minutes.

Motion moved,

That, under Rule 8.14.3, the debate be extended by up to 30 minutes.—[

Linda Fabiani

]

Motion agreed to.

Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

I welcome the opportunity to speak in the debate and congratulate my colleague Linda Fabiani on bringing it forward. What a fabulous opening speech she made—and what a wonderful celebration of the Marie Curie volunteers. The great daffodil appeal is one of the most iconic and recognised fundraising drives of the year. I echo Ms Fabiani’s support for Richard Meade and the Marie Curie charity.

People all over Scotland wear their yellow daffodil with a sense of pride, to signify that they will donate money to support Marie Curie to deliver its world-class palliative care services in our communities and our hospices. The appeal enables the public to support Marie Curie’s research, nurses, community workers and its campaigning, which support the information and services that it provides to families whose loved ones are in, or require, palliative care.

As a registered nurse—although I am a surgical nurse, not a palliative care nurse—and deputy convener of the Health and Sport Committee, I have a keen interest in our care sector and I feel passionately about ensuring that we equip the sector and our population for years to come. Across Scotland and internationally we are seeing populations ageing better, living longer lives and generally becoming healthier. Although that is welcome, it presents challenges: with age comes a greater risk of health complications and a greater need for social care support and services.

The Health and Sport Committee has just commenced an inquiry into social care. I look forward to the inquiry providing information about end-of-life care, in particular. The evidence suggests that there must be an onus on healthcare professionals to have realistic conversations with people about their wishes in relation to their future care needs. That is realistic medicine and such an approach is essential if we are to support people to stay at home or in a homely environment and have care that is suited to their needs.

Marie Curie is at the forefront of pioneering research in Scotland. One of the charity’s most recent publications, which was produced jointly with the University of Edinburgh, suggests that, by 2040, 66 per cent or two-thirds of deaths in Scotland will take place at home, in a care home or in a hospice. It is essential that more people have the opportunity to die in a place of their choosing and that we meet those future care needs.

In 2018-19, in the NHS Dumfries and Galloway area, which is part of my South Scotland region, the region’s 31 dedicated Marie Curie nurses made 4,359 visits to 542 people. Support from those competent professionals enabled 72.5 per cent of the patients who had palliative care needs to die in a place of their choosing. That is welcome.

I am pleased that Marie Curie has seven shops in south-west Scotland that raise funds for the charity. It also has 896 dedicated volunteers. There are shops in Dumfries, Newton Stewart, Stranraer, Ayr, Troon, Girvan and Kilmarnock. I thank each and every one of the folk who work in the shops for their efforts to make other people’s lives more comfortable and to support patients’ loved ones.

Issues to do with out-of-hours Marie Curie coverage in Wigtownshire have been brought to my attention. I have written to Marie Curie and NHS Dumfries and Galloway about the coverage and I hope to find a solution in due course.

I am proud that the Scottish Government has an ambitious vision, which is set out in the Government’s “Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care”:

“By 2021, everyone in Scotland who needs palliative care will have access to it.”

It is great that progress is being made, with the support of Marie Curie and others in the sector. I look forward to hearing an update from the minister on recent progress.

I again congratulate Linda Fabiani on securing the debate and I congratulate everyone at Marie Curie on the fantastic work that they do.

Photo of Ruth Maguire Ruth Maguire Scottish National Party

I thank Linda Fabiani for bringing this important topic to the Parliament and I acknowledge the lovely speeches that members of all parties have made.

The debate is about raising awareness and encouraging people to support Marie Curie’s great daffodil appeal. It is about a bit more than that, too. Everyone knows someone who has been touched by a life-threatening condition, and many of us will have lost someone close to us. It is estimated that around 75 per cent of the people who die each year in Scotland need end-of-life care, and it is sad that a quarter of people do not get the care and support that they deserve at the end of their lives.

In 2018, 1,735 people died in North Ayrshire. Around 1,300 of those folk needed palliative care. Marie Curie nurses provided support for more than 95 per cent of those patients—and there are only 11 Marie Curie nurses in North Ayrshire. I want to take a moment to thank all the Marie Curie nurses and healthcare assistants in Ayrshire and throughout Scotland, who do a wonderful job of providing care and comfort to people in their final days. Life matters, from the first day to the very last day, and everyone can play their part.

I am proud to tell members about the volunteers of Marie Curie’s Irvine and district fundraising group, which has helped to raise around £6,000 a year since 2015. I was privileged to join members of the group for an hour or so last Friday, to help with the collection—I am really grateful to them for not making me wear one of those big daffodil hats. The hard-working volunteers give up their time to organise local events and activities and to support local people, clubs and organisations in fundraising. They relentlessly spread the word about Marie Curie’s work. I know that the group would welcome some new members, so I encourage anyone who would like to join them to do so.

The good news about our ageing population—and it is good news—is that people are living longer, but it brings some resource challenges across the health and social care sector for workforce, care delivery and, of course, finance. We know that, given the choice, most people would choose to die peacefully and at home, so I echo Linda Fabiani’s ask and reiterate that we need to make sure that palliative care is a priority nationally and locally.

We need to support the people who are helping to deliver these vital services and we need to support Marie Curie.

Photo of Christina McKelvie Christina McKelvie Scottish National Party

On behalf of the Scottish Government, I also welcome this year’s great daffodil appeal and thank Madame Daffodil—Linda Fabiani—for bringing the motion to the chamber. It has been a lovely debate and it is a privilege for me to listen and respond to it.

The Marie Curie great daffodil appeal has been running successfully since 1986, which is an achievement of which Marie Curie and its staff and volunteers should be extremely proud. I also thank those across Scotland whose generous donations, fundraising and all the other things that they do have helped to make the Marie Curie great daffodil appeal such a great success for many years.

As Emma Harper said, we all wear our daffodils with great pride. When I see everyone wearing their daffodils, I always think that we are nearly into spring, and the nights are fair drawin oot rather than in. It feels as though there is a bit of renewal going on.

His name is Stewart, David Stewart—a wee James Bond joke there—and he reminded us that the great daffodil appeal started in Scotland. As many members know, I have long supported the great daffodil appeal and the work of Marie Curie in my own constituency, and it is a privilege for me to voice my support for the campaign this year in this setting.

I also want to give a shout out to Shona Robison, although she is not in the chamber. She was out in Dundee with her collecting can the other day, and I remind Ruth Maguire that Shona wore the big hat. I wore the big hat last year, and I think that we should sponsor Ruth Maguire to wear it.

My family has also been greatly supported by Marie Curie, its staff and volunteers at the Stobhill hospice. That was a time of great sadness for my family, but having that support was incredibly important.

In the short time that I have available, it would be impossible for me to cover all the services and support that Marie Curie provides. I will simply say that the contribution of Marie Curie to the wellbeing of those who are near the end of their life, their families and everyone around them is invaluable. Anyone who has been through that process will value that contribution.

Many colleagues across the chamber have reflected on how much Marie Curie services mean to them personally and to their constituents. That highlights the broad scope and reach of Marie Curie’s work and why it is so important that we take the time, today, in our chamber, and for the month of March, to wear our daffodils and do what we do to voice our support.

The incredible work done by Marie Curie to provide expert care and support to those who are in the last months or weeks of their life, as well as to their families and carers, is more important than ever. David Stewart talked about people in the Highlands and Islands saying that they felt that the staff were like family, and I am sure that that will resonate with many who have had Marie Curie’s care and support.

The Marie Curie great daffodil appeal therefore presents a timely opportunity for us to reflect on the challenges that we face and to consider what else we can do to address them. Scotland is already a world leader in the field of palliative and end-of-life care, and I am proud of the great improvements that we have made in palliative care over the past few years.

Rona Mackay and Emma Harper told us that staying at home, or coming home to die surrounded by one’s family, cannot or does not happen for many people. Edward Mountain eloquently reminded us of the need that we all have to say goodbye in dignified way by sharing his personal experience, and we are grateful to him for that. Ruth Maguire also reminded us that 25 per cent of people do not get such care and support at the end of their lives. We will strive to make sure that such care and support are given.

We have had improvements, but they are possible only through the hard work of all health and social care professionals. I put on my record my thanks to them for all their hard work—particularly, as others have said, in the difficult times that we face right now.

To know that a loved one is being looked after with care and compassion at a difficult time in life is a real comfort. Rona Mackay, Bill Kidd, Edward Mountain and Linda Fabiani, as well as many other members, paid tribute to the volunteers, and rightly so—we need to support them because they are absolutely second to none in everything that they do.

I think that we could raise a bit of money by sponsoring Linda Fabiani to hike, run, cycle and swim. Let us see how much money we can make from her doing that. She is my pal; she is sitting right behind me.

Photo of Christina McKelvie Christina McKelvie Scottish National Party

I suppose that that was better than getting lamped by something from the back of the chamber. Linda Fabiani is a dear friend of mine and I am sure that she could run, hike and cycle. She is making faces at me now.

Bruce Crawford told us all that he had a blooming great tea party—I am still waiting for my invite. He is leaving the Parliament next year, but will he have another blooming great tea party so that we can all come? I think that that would be a great leaving party, and we could raise money for Marie Curie at the same time.

In December 2015, we published our “Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care”, which many members, including Linda Fabiani, spoke about. The framework set out a number of commitments that are designed to improve the quality and availability of palliative and end-of-life care across Scotland. I am delighted to see that it has generated such positive results that Marie Curie is calling for a new one when the current one ends in 2021. I say to Marie Curie that I cannot make a commitment to that today on behalf of my health colleagues, but an election year is a great year for getting politicians to listen to what one’s needs are. That is a wee hint.

It is important that we look to the future and at what we need to do next to maintain or advance palliative and end-of-life care. Partnership working is one thing that we can do. Bill Kidd and Edward Mountain spoke about the benefits of partnership working, especially with others in the sector such as MacMillan Cancer Support. I know that the MacMillan partnership is one that is very close to home for Edward Mountain, and I wish his wife all the best in her fundraising efforts.

David Stewart spoke about the 20,000 hours of care that are provided in the Highlands. If we multiply that number across the whole country, we can imagine how many hours of care and kindness are provided. That is something to be proud of.

Delivering high-quality palliative care is something that members of all parties feel very strongly about. Regardless of where we are next year, there will be a desire to keep driving forward improvements. We have a great platform to work from.

Linda Fabiani and others asked about the local action plans. Ministers have asked officials to reflect carefully on the successes of the current framework and to work with stakeholders, including Marie Curie, over the coming year to identify further opportunities and ideas to improve and develop our palliative and end-of-life care services. However, it is important to acknowledge that if we are to continue to improve services to truly meet the needs of people who are near the end of life, we must first understand the needs of the different communities across Scotland. Therefore, it was important to hear from members from the Highlands and Islands and other areas about those differences and the support that connects people in their areas.

It is essential that we create the right conditions nationally to support local communities in their planning, and the local plans are relevant to that. Key to the delivery of palliative and end-of-life care services is our work on health and social care integration. Integration authorities are working with local communities and building on expertise in partnership with organisations such as Marie Curie to commission services that are truly designed to meet the palliative and end-of-life care needs of both their communities and the individual.

It is important that that work is reflected, as it is, in our budget this year. The budget provides investment of more than £810 million in social care and integration, and we are on track to deliver our commitment that more than 50 per cent of front-line NHS spending will be shifted to community health services by the end of this parliamentary session.

I hope that Linda Fabiani, Liam McArthur and others will be pleased to hear that more integration authorities are developing local plans for improving services. Marie Curie has rightly highlighted the local plan approach as being key to making improvements in local services. I look forward to seeing how that work develops over the coming year.

I am sure that we all look forward to viewing the film “Radioactive”, which Rona Mackay reminded us of, about the life of Marie Curie. She had a place in one of our debates last week and when the Scottish Women’s Convention took over the chamber last Saturday, and she is one of the women we remember on international women’s day.

I have used up a lot of time, so I will close. I believe that, through the excellent work of specialist organisations such as Marie Curie and our on-going collaborative and partnership approach to improvement and development, we can, as a nation, remain at the forefront of innovation in palliative and end-of-life care.

I welcome Marie Curie’s contribution to that work, and I am proud to support its efforts for my family and the families of everybody here. I say to all the volunteers and workers in the public gallery that I want to praise you—I am really proud of your work and your efforts in raising and maintaining awareness of the topic through events such as the great daffodil appeal. I wish you well for the month of March and the coming months—we will probably see you all when we write our manifestos next year. Thank you.

Meeting closed at 18:00.