Scottish personal care success story can happen in NI

Figures showing the success of the introduction of free personal and nursing care in Scotland have been welcomed by Alliance Party health spokesperson Alderman Kieran McCarthy MLA (Strangford).

The figures show that as of June 2004, 48,677 people in Scotland were in receipt of free personal care, with the majority being in their own home.

The number of people receiving free personal care in a home increased steadily by 15 per cent between the introduction of free personal care on 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2004 to 8,146. The number of those receiving free personal care in their own home increased by 74 percent over the same period.

Ald. McCarthy said today that the figures were conclusive proof that free personal and nursing care was a massive success for the Scottish Parliament – and a good reason for our local politicians to get the Assembly back up and running.

Commenting on the figures, Ald. McCarthy said:

“I am delighted to see that, since the introduction of this policy in Scotland two years ago, nearly 50,000 pensioners have benefited from free personal and nursing care.

“The introduction of free personal care in Northern Ireland is a key commitment for Alliance, although when we proposed it in the last Assembly, the other parties all voted against it. However, some have committed themselves to backing it in a restored Assembly in their manifestoes, and I am confident they will not ignore older people again.

“Older people are more aware of their rights than ever before and know they have a right to care – and that includes personal care. It is a scandal that older members of our community have had to suffer the indignity of having to pay for their own personal care, often having to sell their homes to do so. Proper care should be a right, not a privilege.

“It is difficult to see free personal and nursing care being introduced in Northern Ireland for as long as Direct Rule ministers are in charge. It was devolution that led to the Scots getting it, and it looks like restoration of the Assembly is the only way free personal care will ever be introduced in Northern Ireland, given Westminster’s total lack of action since the Royal Commission recommended it five years ago.”

Source for statistics: The Scottish Executive

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