Scotland politics

Frank's Law: Holyrood member's bill seeks law change

Frank Kopel Image copyright SNS Scotland
Image caption Frank Kopel, who had a 10-year career at Dundee United, was diagnosed with dementia in 2008

A bill to extend free personal care to dementia patients aged under 65 has been lodged at Holyrood.

Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs hopes his member's bill will implement what has become known as "Frank's Law".

It follows a lengthy campaign by Amanda Kopel, whose husband Frank - a former Dundee United footballer- was diagnosed with dementia when he was 59.

The Scottish government said it was committed to examining the extension of free personal and nursing care.

Frank's Law aims to end the situation where people under 65 who have conditions such as dementia, motor neurone disease, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and cancer have to pay for the care they need.

Mr Kopel's family had to pay about £300 a week for personal care costs towards the end of his life.

'Blatant discrimination'

He was eligible for just 19 days of free personal care before he died in 2014, aged 65.

Mr Briggs, the Scottish Conservatives' health spokesman, was joined by Mrs Kopel at the Scottish Parliament as he formally launched his bill.

He said: "Amanda's passionate and dedicated campaigning on this issue has been inspirational.

"It is a shocking indictment that in some parts of Scotland today, terminally ill patients under the age of 65 are being charged for the help they need with basic things like washing, dressing and feeding themselves.

"We want to see this change and I am pleased that all opposition parties in this parliament have committed to supporting the policy meaning there is a majority in Holyrood for Frank's Law."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Amanda Kopel has been campaigning for free personal care to be extended

The proposal to extend free care for dementia patients was set out at the Scottish Conservatives party conference in Glasgow earlier this year.

Mrs Kopel received a standing ovation at the conference after telling delegates there was "blatant discrimination" against dementia patients aged under 65.

The Conservatives say there is a majority of MSPs at Holyrood who are in favour of changing the law - with only the SNP currently opposed.

But Health Secretary Shona Robison said the government is committed to examining an extension to free care to people under 65 "while protecting existing provision".

She said: "We are currently running a feasibility study to consider the costs, benefits, challenges and consequences of extending free personal care, including analysis of the additional demand for care likely to be created and the relationship with social security provision. This will be completed over the summer.

"As part of this work, we are meeting with all relevant partners, including service user organisations and Cosla.

"We have already made progress on fairer charging for social care by providing local authorities with £6m to increase charging thresholds and £5m from this April to ensure that armed forces veterans who receive social care benefit from the full value of their war pensions."

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