Foreword by the First Minister
No one who knew Gordon Aikman, the tireless campaigner for people with motor neurone disease ( MND) who sadly passed away in February of this year, could have been anything other than inspired by his tenacity, courage and determination to make things better. His vision of a Scotland in which people with MND and their families were able to benefit from the extraordinary skills of specialist nurses was one I immediately shared.
That is why I announced on 7 January 2015 an additional investment of £2.5 million to enhance the provision of specialist nursing and care for the people of Scotland, including those with MND. These funds are recurring to allow the investment to be sustained by NHS boards.
NHS boards across Scotland have benefited from the investment and have used the funding to enhance specialist nursing and care in ways that reflect local needs. An additional 31.4 whole-time equivalent specialist nurses have been created and these roles are supporting and caring for patients and families affected by a wide range of conditions, across the life spectrum and across hospital and community settings. The stories in this report give a brief insight into the impact the additional specialist nurses are having.
As part of this wider effort, we have also more than doubled the number of MND specialist nurses in Scotland and, for the first time, all are paid from the public purse. These are two of the commitments I made to Gordon Aikman and will be among his lasting legacies.
No one is pretending that it is job done. It will take ongoing collaborative effort involving the government, the NHS, higher education institutions and the third sector to ensure the progress we have made is sustained and strengthened. But we have a hugely committed and professional specialist nursing workforce across health and social care in Scotland, as the brief stories in this report illustrate.
My commitment as First Minister is that the Scottish Government will continue to support specialist nurses and will work with NHSScotland and the third sector to make sure patients and families continue to benefit from the expertise they provide. And under the leadership of our Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Fiona McQueen, I am confident we will continue to enhance clinical nursing specialist services in Scotland.
I feel privileged to have met and got to know Gordon Aikman, and proud that the government I lead is delivering on his vision and making a very real difference to the lives of people affected by MND and a wide range of other conditions across the country.
The Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon,
First Minister of Scotland