THE Scottish Liberal Democrats have become the first party to pledge support for free healthcare for patients with advanced dementia.

The Herald is seeking a manifesto pledge from the five main political parties ahead of the 2021 elections in support of a campaign by Alzheimer Scotland, which we are backing, that aims to relieve the cost burden faced by families for care that is free to others suffering from terminal illnesses.

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said the party was committed to “equality of access to expert health and nursing care”.

Mr Rennie said: “Far too often patients and their families are finding themselves on a carousel of emergency room visits, hospital trips and inadequate care services.

“Everyone deserves to live with dignity.

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“That means ensuring that fair dementia care is put in place.

“The Scottish Liberal Democrats are committed to ensuring that people with advanced dementia have equality of access to the expert health and nursing care that they need.

“This means finally ending care charges for the personal care of people with dementia.

“I hope that all parties will commit to making this a reality.”

At the launch of a new documentary yesterday by the charity highlighting the disparity of care, former first minister Henry McLeish said he hoped the First Minister would take forward legislation ahead of the next parliamentary elections.

Mr McLeish, who contributed to a major report by the charity making the case for free care and whose late father suffered from dementia, said: “This is an issue beyond party politics.

“Yes, there is a financial aspect, but it’s relative compared to the hardship faced by families.

“We are not asking for a vast new arena of care to be opened up.

“If we don’t have good health and good conditions in which that can be treated we can’t call ourselves a civilised society.

“The mark of a civilised society is to take care of those most in need.”

Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “We very much welcome the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ commitment to delivering Fair Dementia Care.

READ MORE: We need to change attitudes about dementia

“This brings us a step closer to securing full cross-party political support which we believe is essential in order for Scotland to rise to this challenge and bring an end to the injustice and inequalities that people with advanced dementia and their carers face.

“Yesterday we launched a short documentary film to demonstrate the harrowing unfairness that families face when their loved ones have advanced dementia.

“The film highlights the inequalities that arise out of their healthcare needs not being recognised and how subsequently they have to pay for their care.

“Healthcare should be free at the point of delivery, but this is not the case for people with advanced dementia.”

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