MSPs back law to provide voice equipment to those in need

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when she announced her intention to provide the equipment in September. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when she announced her intention to provide the equipment in September. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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MSPs have backed changes to the law that will give people at risk of losing their speech the right to access voice equipment on the NHS

The Scottish Government’s amendment to the Health Bill was supported by Holyrood’s health committee at stage two yesterday. The commitment to provide voice equipment was made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when she announced her legislative programme in September.

Motor neurone disease (MND) patient Gordon Aikman and MND Scotland had been campaigning for those who need voice equipment to have a statutory right to it.

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Introducing the amendment, public health minister Maureen Watt said it was “the right thing to do”,as “loss of voice and the need for voice equipment affects a small number of people but has a huge impact on their lives”.

Ministers will issue directions to health boards to help them meet the duty, she said.

Ms Watt said the government was undertaking “operational improvement work” with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, and would fund the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research to pilot voice banking at three NHS sites from April.

“We thank Gordon for bringing this research work to our attention and look forward to the findings of the pilot,” she added.

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