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1 September 2015, 19:05
A former political aide who has been diagnosed with a terminal degenerative condition has welcomed the Scottish Government's announcement it will provide voice synthesisers on the NHS.
Gordon Aikman, who has been confined to a wheelchair by motor neurone disease (MND) and is expected to lose his ability to speak, said the amendment to the Health Bill will make ``a huge, huge difference'' to people like him.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described it as "a commitment that will benefit a relatively small numbers of people but in a life-enhancing way''.
"Access to voice equipment is vital to anyone who is at risk of losing their voice as a result of conditions like MND,'' she said.
"Gordon Aikman and MND Scotland have been campaigning for those who need voice equipment to have a statutory right to it.
"So, I can announce today that we will bring forward an amendment to the Health Bill currently before Parliament to provide this.
"We will also work with health boards over the next year to improve the quality of equipment and services available.
Mr Aikman said: "This transformational step in care recognises that no-one should die without a voice.
"Losing my voice is by far the thing I fear most about MND. It is so terrifying it does not bear thinking about.
"The majority of people with MND lose their voice before they die but too many don't get the equipment they need to communicate. I hope this commitment will guarantee that everyone who needs communication aids gets them - and fast.
"I urge the Scottish Government to now work with the pioneering Edinburgh Voicebank project to ensure that patients don't just get a voice but get their own personalised voice back.
"I'd like to thank politicians from all parties who have spoken with one voice on this issue, but most importantly all those who got behind the campaign to secure this change.''
He added: "This will make a huge, huge difference. It's a transformational change for people who are at risk of or who have lost their voices.
"For the first time people will have the right to the equipment they need. Losing my voice is the thing I fear the most about MND. I think it's important that people don't just get a voice back but get their own voice back.''