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.