As you rightly pointed out, MS is an unpredictable condition that affects people differently. As is the case with other conditions, and in fact the entire range of health and social care services, Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that care must be planned and delivered in a person-centred way.
Support for community resources is something that we have long advocated for; my colleague Jim Hume MSP has repeatedly challenged the Scottish Government on this at Parliament. This is a topic that has continuously come up during debates about the integration of health and social care ahead of the new system going live on 1 April 2016.
I assure you that Scottish Liberal Democrats take the provision of health and social care very seriously. We believe that those best placed to shape community services are the experts – professionals on the frontline and service users. We want to see this approach developed further with services for people living with MS.
Having fought for the devolution of more powers to the Scottish Parliament, including control over some welfare powers, Scottish Liberal Democrats are now working to ensure that their use is underpinned by respect for the dignity of individuals. These powers must also be exercised in a way that is suited to the needs of people in Scotland and have the confidence of claimants and those who support them.
Liberal Democrats in Edinburgh have grave concerns however about the ongoing merger between health and social care in the city. It seems that hospital beds are being cut prematurely before community care has been put into place and that frontline staff are not being listened to by management. Sufferers of MS have in common with many other health users the need for top class community care and we fear that this will not be delivered.
We have nothing in principle against the delivery of care on a Hospital At Home basis but here in Edinburgh it very much looks like the merger of services are being used simply by the SNP administration to introduce more cuts. The Scottish Government, while claiming record spending on the health service, have systematically spent less on health as a percentage of total national budget than the Westminster Government has for England.
I am pleased to be able to support the calls of the MS Society Scotland manifesto and I will work to ensure this is implemented should I be elected. With your support, we can improve access to more and better services for people living with MS in Scotland.
Thus I will ask you to support Liberal Democrats with both votes in the May elections. Our complete manifesto may be read here: https://issuu.com/gregfoster5/docs/manifestov11?e=17904016/34905851