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National Focus: Stories from Scotland

Introduction of assisted dying in Scotland to be debated in May

A new bill to legalise assisted dying in Scotland was recently proposed by Liberal Democrat MSP, Liam McArthur. The debate over this legislation legalising assisted dying to people who are terminally ill or with an incurable condition, will be held in May. A poll by Dignity in Dying Scotland has seen support from 78 per cent of respondents. Demand for palliative care has increased, with over 21,000 people requiring this service per year, and one in four people not getting access to such services. This is MSP Liam McArthur’s third attempt to introduce assisted dying to the Scottish Parliament due to intense backlash from conservative and faith-based groups, including First Minister Humsa Yousaf, who has stated he has “not been persuaded” by the bill. Currently, aiding or persuading someone to end their life could result in prosecution for murder, homicide, or reckless endangerment.

Initiative for drug-checking among first in Scotland

A checking service for illegal drugs in Aberdeen has been proposed, aiming to save lives and reduce the number of drug-related deaths. The UK’s first such initiative was launched in Bristol, and now the Alcohol and Drugs Association has submitted this most current application. Those suffering from addiction or serious harm from drug use would be targeted, with workers at small centres testing the illicit substances for purity. In addition to this, drug users would receive tailored advice for harm reduction and a faster response time to overdoses and crises. BBC interviews with drug users around the country emphasise the “huge difference” and “game changer” the initiative would be, especially for risk reduction. 

Concerns about patient safety rise among A&E workers

According to the BBC, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has recently confirmed a letter of “no confidence” in delivering safety, affecting timely care for patients. Similar concerns have been raised nationwide, including in Glasgow and Grampian. Such concerns are not irregular; last year, Healthcare Improvement Scotland concluded that emergency departments in Edinburgh were often operating at 300 times their capacity. The NHS board is now calling for a Scotland-wide review of emergency room provisions.

Image by Wikimedia Commons

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