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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 15 March 2022

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Covid-19 Update, Fisheries Management, Conversion Practices, Covid-19: Scotland’s Strategic Framework, Business Motion, Decision Time, Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal 2022


Contents


Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal 2022

The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S6M-02957, in the name of Gillian Martin, on the Marie Curie great daffodil appeal 2022. The debate will be concluded without any question being put. I invite members who wish to participate to press their request-to-speak button or place an R in the chat function.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal 2022, which runs throughout March; praises Marie Curie nursing and hospice staff who have been on the frontline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for providing palliative and end of life care support to hundreds of dying people, their families, and carers, including in the Aberdeenshire East constituency; understands that Marie Curie cared for over 9,000 people in Scotland during 2020-21, which is reportedly the highest number of patients cared for in a single year since the charity was established 70 years ago; commends what it sees as the dedication, hard work and contribution of Marie Curie volunteers across Scotland; considers that the pandemic has highlighted how crucial access to palliative and end of life care is for terminally ill people to ensure a positive end of life experience that reflects what is important to the individual; understands that Marie Curie needs to raise £250,000 per week to support its frontline services; commends the vital care and support that Marie Curie provides across local authorities and hospices; praises the Marie Curie Information and Support services, which are available for everyone affected by terminal illness, including for bereavement support, and the volunteer Helper services, which have adapted during the pandemic to continue providing what it sees as vital emotional support, companionship, and information to terminally ill people, their carers, and families; believes that wearing the daffodil pin unites millions of people who consider that dying people should get the care and support that they need, and notes the calls encouraging as many people as possible to support the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal in March 2022.

18:53  

I am delighted to lead this year’s members’ business debate to highlight the work of Marie Curie and draw well-deserved attention to the Marie Curie great daffodil appeal 2022.

Like so many charities and services, Marie Curie has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the many challenges that it has presented. However, despite those challenges, Marie Curie has gone above and beyond to deliver the vital care that it gives to people when they need it most. Although Marie Curie’s work might not always make newspaper headlines or news bulletins, the work of its staff means the world to those who are receiving the care and to the relatives and carers to whom they give vital support—just one conversation with someone who has seen them in action will tell you that.

The great daffodil appeal runs throughout March, and next week, on 23 March, Marie Curie will be holding a national day of reflection—a time for the millions of people who are grieving to connect and remember the family, friends, neighbours and colleagues who have been lost to us over the past two years. There are a lot of ways in which people can take part, from joining the minute’s silence at 12 noon on 23 March to hosting a wall of reflection in their community, wherever they are. We will be able to come together to remember the mums and dads, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends who are no longer with us.

In bringing the debate to the chamber, I hope that all my MSP colleagues who are speaking in the debate or listening along will take the appeal back to their constituencies or regions and further raise awareness of the work of Marie Curie, thereby encouraging more people to volunteer and raise funds so that its vital work can continue. There is a long tradition of our doing that in Parliament. I thank all my colleagues from all sides of the chamber who have supported my motion. I ask them to join me and our party leaders in the garden lobby on Thursday, after First Minister’s questions, for the yearly photo call, which we have not had the chance to do for the past two years. In addition, I will be delighted to host Marie Curie at a Parliament event tomorrow night, and I hope to see members there.

Over the years, the need for Marie Curie end-of-life care has increased. That care has meant the world to those who receive it, but the cost of delivering that incredible service is £250,000 per week. The work that Marie Curie does allows people to die with dignity and comfort in a care home or hospice or in their home. At present, half of people with terminal illness die in hospital. Although both nurses and doctors provide an incredible service in hospital, that can bring challenges for relatives in terms of time and the cost of travel to and from the hospital. Enabling people to have the opportunity to die at home means that they can be in a place that is familiar and in surroundings that give them comfort, and—probably most important—with the people whom they love the most beside them.

During the pandemic, Marie Curie has been able to provide end-of-life care at home. When I look at my area of Aberdeenshire, I see that, incredibly, across the whole NHS Grampian area, 54 Marie Curie nurses provided care, making 330 visits to people in Aberdeenshire between 2020 and 2021, while working under the most challenging of conditions. In addition, 94 per cent of people at the end of their lives who were supported by Marie Curie nurses were able to die in their place of choice, usually at home.

None of that care would have been possible without the generosity of people locally and across Scotland, and the many fundraising volunteers. Right now, in our shopping centres—although, from looking at the clock, I think that they may all be closed—and in our supermarkets and high streets, you will see volunteers collecting money from the generous citizens of Scotland to help fund Marie Curie services. The volunteers are easy to spot, as they are clad in yellow bibs, and some have big yellow top hats—you cannot miss them. They are all part of the great daffodil appeal, for which we, as MSPs, are showing our support by wearing our daffodils this month.

As summer arrives, we will prepare to host our blooming great tea parties, also in support of Marie Curie. However, we do not have to wait for those events or to be approached by the yellow-clad volunteers. Many supporters of Marie Curie set up monthly direct debits online, and every penny that we can give helps.

As more people live to an older age, it is estimated that, by 2040, 10,000 people every year will need palliative care. We also know that, by 2040, if current trends in where people die continue, two thirds of all Scots could die at home or in a care home or hospice. We know that health inequities exist, with certain groups of people receiving less palliative care than others who have a comparable need. By supporting all people with terminal conditions across our society, we can not only help them, but help to relieve pressures on acute services, for example by reducing unnecessary hospital admissions, including those through accident and emergency.

I will finish with the words of senior Marie Curie nurse Ann-Marie Craig, who works in the NHS Grampian area. Speaking to The Press and Journal at the end of last year, Ann-Marie spoke movingly about how rewarding her role as a Marie Curie nurse can be. She said:

“You do get job satisfaction knowing that you’re looking after people at a really difficult time ... When somebody has passed away, that’s when people make contact with us. People regularly contact me because they want to make a donation and they remember the nurse’s name. They will specifically say ‘can you thank Linda’ or whoever because they’ve been there a long time, in the house for nine hours, and you get to know them as well as patients.”

To Ann-Marie, to all the nurses, staff and volunteers at Marie Curie who go above and beyond each day, and to everyone who donates and allows Ann-Marie and her colleagues to give our loved ones that care, I say thank you for all that you do.

19:00  

It is a real honour to participate in this debate on the Marie Curie great daffodil appeal 2022, and I congratulate Gillian Martin on bringing it to the chamber. It is a very important matter because most individuals in the chamber and across the country have, like me, had direct experience of relatives and friends requiring palliative and end-of-life care. In fact, it is one of the very few inevitable things about life for every one of us.

The passing of a loved one is a testing time for all families. The support that is given by nursing and hospice staff eases the suffering that we face as individuals and families, as well as the suffering of those who are facing the end of life. Nursing and hospice staff, through their dedication to their profession, create space for moments of joy in the last months and weeks of someone’s life, and we all need our memories of loved ones.

Worryingly, however, pressures on the social care and palliative care sector are increasing. That is not a new phenomenon, but it is evidence of our lack of collective political will to deal with the issues with which we are presented in that sector. I am minded to suggest that we should perhaps have some form of legal right to appropriate palliative and end-of-life treatment. Every member in the chamber understands the importance of such care. We all, as parliamentarians, have a duty, at times, to leave behind political manoeuvring and come together to support something that is actually a matter of life and love.

The scale of the challenge that we collectively face has been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic. As Gillian Martin points out in her motion,

“Marie Curie cared for over 9,000 people in Scotland during 2020-21, which is reportedly the highest number of patients cared for in a single year since the charity was established 70 years ago”.

In my Central Scotland region, we have the Strathcarron Hospice, which cares for 1,400 people across Forth valley, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth. That support is able to be provided only because of the generosity of fundraisers and donors. As the motion points out, Marie Curie requires £250,000 per week to deliver its front-line services; Strathcarron Hospice requires £14,315 a day to keep its services running. The fact that so many people are willing to support that care is inspiring, which helps to involve us all in supporting the very real costs that are incurred as we help one another with the end of life.

When we actively play our part in providing funding through lotteries, appeals, raffles, bake sales, coffee mornings and so on, we are actually all part of a great movement. Charities such as Marie Curie add love to what they do. It is about not only the love of those who give, who leave bequests or who get involved in fundraising efforts, but the love of those who provide those services and their devotion and dedication, which is enabled by the voluntary giving of so many thousands of our fellow countrymen and women.

I hope that, on the day of reflection on 23 March this year, we will all take time to remember those whom we have loved and lost.

I will conclude with the memorable words of Her Majesty the Queen on grief and mourning. She said:

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

I think that we owe one another an obligation to make sure that, as each of us in turn reaches the end of life, the appropriate level of love and care is there. Marie Curie does that in such a splendid and wonderful way.

19:04  

I am very pleased to speak in the debate, and I thank my colleague Gillian Martin for bringing it to the chamber.

Over the past two years, all our lives have been turned upside down as a result of Covid-19. We have been through some terrible, unpredictable times; in fact, we are still going through them as we try to learn to live with the virus. If it has been bad for us, we should remember the front-line medical workers—every single one of those dedicated people who work throughout all areas of healthcare—who have been heroic.

I have been fortunate enough to speak in most debates on Marie Curie’s great daffodil appeal since I was elected in 2016. In an unpredictable and ever-changing world, Marie Curie is a constant reassurance—it is like a big comfort blanket—that gives people the knowledge that they or a family member or friend will have choice and dignity in the event of terminal illness.

As the motion says,

“Marie Curie cared for over 9,000 people in Scotland during 2020-21, which is ... the highest number of patients cared for in a single year since the charity was established 70 years ago”.

That is remarkable, even by Marie Curie’s standards. To support those front-line services and continue the vital care and support that it provides across local authority areas and in hospices, the charity needs to raise £250,000 a week. That is why the appeal is so important.

Marie Curie and its amazing army of volunteers offer much to everyone who is affected by terminal illness. That involves helping families and providing bereavement support, emotional support, carer support and companionship. The amazing Marie Curie information and support service is invaluable to patients and their families in their time of need. It offers unconditional support and advice, and nothing is too much trouble.

As Gillian Martin said, the horrible Covid virus has brought into focus how necessary access to palliative and dignified end-of-life care is. We are extremely fortunate to have some amazing organisations, such as Marie Curie and Macmillan Cancer Support.

I am in favour of assisted dying for terminally ill people, but I also support palliative care, should the person should choose that, to allow a dignified and peaceful death. However, that is a very personal decision.

I am delighted to say that there are Marie Curie fundraising groups in Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch, Lenzie and Bearsden in my constituency. They are just some of the 85 or so groups in Scotland that do fantastic work.

In my previous speech on the matter, I highlighted research into there being too many people who care for someone at the end of life going unidentified and unsupported. That should be addressed. Carers need to be identified early, and it is everyone’s responsibility to identify them—not least general practitioners, social workers and district nurses—and to signpost them to Marie Curie so that they can at least have a break, even for just a few hours. Financial support and advice are also vital.

The problem is that carers often do not see themselves as carers; rather, they see themselves as a mother, a son, a brother or a friend doing what they do out of love, so they do not identify as a carer or ask for help, often to the detriment of their own health. Carers should know that Marie Curie is always there to step in and help to care for their loved one with tenderness and professionalism.

Marie Curie nurses give people with terminal illness choice and dignity. They make it possible for people who are faced with a terminal illness to have the choice to die peacefully in their own home, surrounded by the people whom they love. None of us knows when or if we will need the support of Marie Curie nurses, but we should all be eternally grateful that, if we do, they will be there.

The great daffodil appeal is Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign. From wearing a daffodil pin to organising large gala dinners or small bake sales, there are countless ways for people to get involved and to know that they are contributing to an absolutely wonderful charity.

19:08  

I congratulate Gillian Martin on securing debating time for an important topic and on the content of her speech, and I acknowledge the very helpful briefing that Marie Curie provided in advance of the debate.

The indispensability of the work of Marie Curie, the entirety of the hospice staff team and the community nurses, especially during the past two years, cannot be overstated. I record my thanks for all that they have done and continue to do. When family members could not be with their loved ones, Marie Curie was there. Staff have provided dignified and important palliative and end-of-life care, supported those who were dying and supported their families. They have been the backbone of our communities throughout the pandemic.

End-of-life care is as important as any other aspect of our health and social care system, but it is often overlooked. As Gillian Martin rightly said, around 50 per cent of people die in Scottish hospitals, but the majority would prefer to die at home or in a homely setting. We must do more to honour their wishes by better supporting our hospices and palliative care nurses who deliver services at home.

Hospices have faced deep and difficult challenges since the pandemic began, and they have risen to those challenges time and time again. Between 2020 and 2021, Marie Curie cared for more than 9,000 people in Scotland—the highest number since the charity was formed 70 years ago.

St Margaret’s hospice in Clydebank, where a number of my constituents are cared for by the indomitable Sister Rita and her dedicated team, coped with similar pressures. The pressures are immense, yet staff at St Margaret’s and Marie Curie hospices continue to provide care day in and day out.

It is estimated that, by 2040, more than 62,000 people across Scotland each year will die with palliative care needs. In my constituency, 89.5 per cent of the people who pass away each year spend the final six months of their lives at home or in a community setting. As the need for palliative care increases, it is crucial that we support hospices to deliver that work.

I thank the Marie Curie volunteers who contribute so much through their fundraising activities, and I give a special shout-out to the Marie Curie shop in Alexandria, in which I have spent some time during volunteers week each year.

I very much welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to a national clinical lead and a new national palliative care strategy, which will require a whole-system, public health approach to terminal illness at national and local level. Members will not be surprised to hear me say that that should be introduced sooner rather than later.

The third sector needs to be at the heart of shaping the proposals. The strategy urgently needs to address concerns about workforce capacity, co-ordination of care and sustainable funding for community-based palliative care services, which has been a perennial issue.

We also need to address the inequalities in our society, which are mirrored in palliative care. Many groups receive less palliative care than others that have comparable needs. Such groups include people over 85, people from ethnically diverse backgrounds, people from deprived areas, people who live with mental health needs and people who identify as LGBTQ. Those people are all less likely to ask for help when they need it. That must be addressed by the strategy.

The trend towards more deaths at home has stayed high, even as the pandemic has become more manageable. That highlights the need for well-equipped services and an adequate workforce to manage demand. We must support hospice staff in their work more than ever.

We all wear our yellow daffodil badges with pride, and rightly so, but it is time to put that pride into action and ensure that Marie Curie and hospices throughout the country are supported to continue to deliver the world-class care that people in Scotland need and deserve.

19:13  

I thank Gillian Martin for bringing this debate to the chamber. I also thank Ellie Wagstaff from the team at Marie Curie for the briefing for the debate.

Marie Curie provides a nursing service in 31 out of our 32 local authorities and is the third largest provider of palliative care for adults in Scotland. I have seen its helper service in action, providing support and companionship to people who are affected by terminal illness in all 32 local authorities. There are also information and support lines, including the dedicated bereavement line, which provides key emotional support for families during a very difficult time.

As members said, in 2020-21 Marie Curie supported more than 9,000 people with a terminal illness, which is its highest-ever number.

A key part of Marie Curie’s work is its partnership work with the NHS, local authorities and other charities that deliver care services. Each year in East Lothian, approximately 1,150 people die, and about 1,000 of those have palliative care needs. Last year, Marie Curie made 312 visits in my constituency, and 88 per cent of those people spent the final six months of their lives at home or in a community setting. During the pandemic, there was a 43 per cent increase in the number of deaths at home.

That trend is likely to continue, so it is important that we consider future demands on palliative care services as our population ages. As people live into older age, they often have multiple conditions. Marie Curie estimates that the number of people who need palliative care will go up by about 10,000 by 2040. Without substantial investment in community-based care, hospital deaths could account for about 57 per cent of deaths by 2040.

Covid-19 has provided an insight into what increased demand for palliative support in the community might look like. As has already been said, there were 6,000 more deaths at home in Scotland in 2020-21 than in previous years. That trend is likely to continue.

The briefing from Marie Curie refers to the challenges of workforce capacity, care co-ordination and the integration of health and social care, and to the need for funding for community palliative care services. Those are challenges for us all. I would like to hear the minister touch on those issues when summing up.

Will the member join me in recognising the dedication of Marie Curie workers and volunteers across the country, particularly in rural areas, where they support dying people and their families? The challenge of providing palliative care in rural areas has never been greater. Staff and volunteers from Marie Curie have stepped up and have supported people, no matter where they live.

I fully support that. My constituency is not as rural as Mr Carson’s, but there are some rural areas in my constituency. That is a challenge. I know the support that Marie Curie gives and I fully support Mr Carson’s point.

The Scottish Government has said that it is committed to a national clinical lead and a new palliative care strategy. That is welcome. Marie Curie has welcomed that, saying that a whole-system public health approach to terminal illness should be adopted. As Mr Carson suggested, it is important to cater for local circumstances.

The briefing from Marie Curie also asks that the strategy sets out a plan for palliative care in all settings, to include hospitals, hospices, care homes and people’s own homes. That would also involve local circumstances. The briefing also states that care must include bereavement support, which is incredibly important for families.

There is a need to work with all care providers, including the NHS, social care and the independent and third sectors, towards ending inequalities in palliative care. Patients in this group struggle to access vital palliative care services. Marie Curie is also calling for the establishment of a new national palliative and end-of-life care network, linking key stakeholders with health boards and other integration authorities.

Marie Curie also supports the establishment of a national care service but says that it must provide a framework for palliative care to flourish and to support terminally ill people to have an end-of-life experience that reflects what is most important to them. A whole-system public health approach will be crucial to the design and delivery of the national care service. The third sector must be at the heart of informing the design and structure of the national care service, given the key role it plays in integrated services.

I thank Marie Curie for the amazing care given to so many families over the years and at such a difficult time.

19:17  

I, too, thank everyone caring for people at the end of life, throughout the pandemic and beyond. Anyone who has seen Marie Curie nurses caring for a loved one in the final days and weeks of their life will be keenly aware of the incredible work that they do. They give people a good death and provide kindness, care and compassion for people and their families as they go through the unimaginable. Constituents have told me about the incredible support that Marie Curie nurses have provided to them and to family members and how the nurses did everything possible to make the most difficult experience in their lives a little less painful.

I also take the opportunity to associate myself with the remarks that Stephen Kerr made about the Strathcarron hospice in our Central Scotland region. The hospice does amazing work and has wide-ranging support from people and businesses across the area.

The pandemic has led to more open conversations about what a good death looks like and how we can afford people dignity in death. We must keep those discussions going as we enter recovery. Scotland’s ageing population means that a greater number of people will die in the coming years. Marie Curie research suggests that up to 10,000 more people with palliative care needs will die each year by 2040. People will also be more likely to die in the community, either in their own homes or in residential care homes. We should enable people to have the death that they want and that reflects their wishes. Palliative care will play an essential role in that.

Many people who die at home will be cared for by family and friends. It is vital that they get the right support while they are in the caring role and after their loved one has died. Marie Curie estimates that, every year, around 40,000 to 50,000 carers in Scotland are bereaved. We must ensure that they can access dedicated mental health support when they need it. People can often be left not knowing where to turn after the death of a loved one or who can help them to process their grief. We must be proactive about identifying carers who have been bereaved and signposting them to support such as that provided by Marie Curie’s bereavement support service.

We must also improve our ability to identify people with palliative care needs at an early stage. There is currently significant unmet need, as one third of Scots with terminal conditions die without having an anticipatory care plan in place.

Marie Curie has pointed out that the inverse care law applies to palliative care just as it does to other parts of the health and care system, and that significant inequalities exist. People from minority ethnic backgrounds and from rural and deprived communities are less likely to receive palliative care. They are also less likely to ask for it. Research conducted by Marie Curie has revealed that many people from ethnically diverse groups do not access palliative care and that, when they do, palliative care delivery is not always sensitive to their different needs, particularly around culture and religion.

Research has also shown that one LGBTQ+ person in six is discriminated against when using public services such as palliative care and that half of LGBTQ+ people expect to be discriminated against. That can discourage them from accessing the care services that they need.

There are also misconceptions about who is entitled to palliative care, such as that it is only for people with cancer. Those misconceptions must be challenged. We need to improve awareness of what palliative care is available and how it can be accessed, but we also need to ensure that palliative care services are person centred, are culturally competent and have the resources that they need to identify and engage with people who are terminally ill.

I thank Gillian Martin for bringing the debate to the chamber, and I thank everyone who works at Marie Curie. As the motion states,

“Marie Curie needs … £250,000 per week to support its frontline services”,

which is why it is so important that the Parliament takes the time to highlight the great daffodil appeal and encourages people to support it however they can.

19:22  

I was not planning on speaking, but I contributed in previous years and I wanted to support my colleague Gillian Martin by being in the chamber when she led the debate. I thank her for leading the debate this year. I remember Bruce Crawford leading previous debates on the topic when I was a newbie MSP.

In my career as a registered nurse, I looked after terminally ill people in the perioperative or perianaesthesia environment, not directly in end-of-life care. I was also able to look after people in a ward setting. When I was a clinical educator in NHS Dumfries and Galloway, I worked with the team in the Alexandra unit at Dumfries and Galloway royal infirmary and the Dalrymple ward at Galloway community hospital, where end-of-life and pain-management care is provided by an amazing team. I thank them all because they are awesome.

I also thank the Marie Curie staff, nurses, carers and volunteers. Without them, we could not raise the funds that are needed. They are all fantastic and I could not do what they do every day.

The briefing that Ellie Wagstaff from Marie Curie sent us ahead of the debate talks about the £250,000 per week that is needed to support front-line services. Stephen Kerr mentioned the £14,000 that is needed for the hospice in his area. That highlights how investment is required to provide the best person-centred end-of-life and palliative care that Gillian Mackay mentioned in her speech.

It is interesting to hear everybody else’s speeches. As Paul McLennan said, 31 out of the 32 local authorities have Marie Curie services.

I welcome the great daffodil appeal and the reception that will take place in Holyrood on Wednesday 16 March, where speakers will reflect on their personal experience, which I am sure will be very valuable for all of us to hear.

I end by again thanking Gillian Martin for, and congratulating her on, leading this year’s debate. I look forward to hearing the minister’s response. I once again thank all the volunteers who are fundraising for this year’s great daffodil appeal.

19:25  

On behalf of the Scottish Government, I, too, welcome this year’s great daffodil appeal, and I thank Gillian Martin for lodging her motion.

The past two years have been difficult for all of us in many ways, and I know that it has been a particularly difficult time for those working in the third sector. I am absolutely delighted to be here to celebrate Marie Curie’s great daffodil appeal and to have the opportunity to thank all Marie Curie staff for their tireless and selfless work over the past few years. The contributions of Marie Curie to the wellbeing of those near the end of life, and those around them, are invaluable.

We have heard from other members just how much Marie Curie’s services mean to people across Scotland and the difference that they make to local communities. I know that Marie Curie, even in the past challenging year, has made more than 1,000 visits to people in my area, which is covered by NHS Highland, and I thank its staff for that.

I want take a moment to thank all those across Scotland whose generous donations have helped to make the great daffodil appeal such a great success since it began in 1986. The donations are so important to ensuring that Marie Curie can continue to provide vital support and the high-quality, person-centred care that we all associate with the organisation.

Death, dying, bereavement and preparing for the end of life is a subject that is not often discussed openly. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of having those conversations early and meaningfully to ensure that people get the care that is right for them.

The Scottish Government has long been committed to driving a culture of openness about death, dying and bereavement—that was one of the key actions set out in our previous “Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care”, which was published in 2015.

Throughout the pandemic, we have continued our work with organisations such as Marie Curie and the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care to ensure that people and their families are supported to have those difficult discussions, so that they can receive the care that is right for them. As Marie Curie has rightly pointed out, the demand for such services will only grow, so it is important that we take time to reflect on the work that we have done to date and think about what we can do better.

Scotland is a world leader in the field of palliative and end-of-life care, and I am proud of the improvements that have been made since we published our previous strategy. That includes increasing the number of people who have a key information summary in place, increasing the availability and spread of palliative care services, and undertaking an innovative programme of health and social care integration, of which palliative care has been a key component.

We have come a long way since the framework was published, but there is still much more that can be done to make Scotland a place where everyone has access to high-quality, compassionate and timely palliative and end-of-life care that is tailored to their circumstances.

In our programme for government, we committed to developing a new palliative care strategy and appointing a new palliative care lead clinician to help to lead the work. The preparatory work to develop the strategy is already well under way and the process to appoint a lead clinician has concluded. I look forward to sharing more details of that appointment with Parliament in the near future.

In developing the strategy, we want to learn from the innovative and adaptive work of Marie Curie, and the wider palliative and end-of-life care community, to develop a pragmatic and meaningful framework for further improving our palliative and end-of-life care services. It is important to me that, as other members said, the new strategy takes a whole-system, public health approach to ensuring that everyone who needs palliative and end-of-life care can access it, regardless of their geographical location, age or medical condition.

That is why, as part of our work to develop the new strategy, we will focus on key areas that can make a real difference to a person’s experience towards the end of life. Those areas include data collection and use, anticipatory care planning, commissioning, service planning and children’s palliative care—to name but a few.

Only by working closely with key stakeholders such as Marie Curie have we been able to make so much progress in taking forward our previous strategy. Marie Curie is already working in partnership with others, including the NHS, local authorities and other charities, to deliver integrated services that provide person-centred care. I am confident that, with organisations such as Marie Curie as part of our palliative care community, we will be able to progress further work to ensure that people and their families get the right care, when they need it most.

Let me finish by drawing members’ attention to the symbol of today’s event—a daffodil, which symbolises new beginnings and rebirth. I was interested to find that the daffodil also represents creativity, inspiration and reflection. Today’s event is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the creative work that Marie Curie and the palliative and end-of-life care community undertake to support people and their families at the end of life. Let us celebrate that work.

I am inspired by Marie Curie’s continuous work for a better end of life for all, and I welcome its efforts to raise and maintain awareness of the topic through events such as this one. I am proud to support the great daffodil appeal.

Meeting closed at 19:32.