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.