Dignity in dying campaign

I appreciate this is a very sensitive issue, and understand concerns regarding end of life care and the law surrounding assisted suicide are particularly complex and emotive for many people.

As you may be aware, the law concerning assisted dying is a matter for the Scottish Parliament. Since 2010, two Bills relating to assisted suicide have been introduced to the Scottish Parliament. Most recently, the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill was introduced by the late Margo MacDonald MSP in 2013, however this Bill fell in May 2015 after MSPs voted against the general principles of the Bill.

Given the sensitivity and importance of this issue it is vital that high quality support, guidance and palliative care are available. In December 2015, the Scottish Government launched the Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care with £3.5 million over four years. The Framework also intended to drive a new culture of openness about death, dying and improvement. The Scottish Government has also pledged to double the amount of palliative end-of-life provision in the community by 2021. I will follow developments on both the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework, and the promised palliative end-of-life provision, very closely.

I understand this debate provokes strong views and it is important that the concerns of people on both sides of this debate are fully considered. I can assure you that I will continue to bear in mind the points you raise.

More widely, I believe it is important that more is done to improve care for those with terminal illnesses, and to support carers who provide essential care to people at the end of life. This, along with earlier and faster diagnosis of terminal conditions, would go some way to improving patients’ quality of life at this extremely difficult time.