• Sam Melnick

The right of disabled people to make their own choices in life is one we need to protect and expand.

The right of disabled people to make their own choices in life is one we need to protect and expand. I am proud that the Scottish government is dedicated to ensuring disabled people have autonomy and the opportunity to live fulfilling lives, as in too many countries, disabled people are discriminated against and deprived of their rights. The suggestions in this resolution would greatly improve the situation for disabled people in Scotland.

A new National Care Service informed by the Social Model of Disability will improve the lives of disabled people, by providing them with the necessary support, while also maintaining their autonomy. The Social Model is important to me as a neurodiversity advocate, as the rights and value of disabled people are embodied within the model. Societal barriers and attitudes are often much more harmful to disabled people, than the medical realities of our conditions, and the wider acknowledgement of the social model of disability in society, is a huge step forward in the battle to remove these barriers.

There is sadly a worrying trend across the world with record levels of mental health issues, particularly among students, young people and particularly autistic people. As an autistic person myself, I know how difficult it often is for us to find effective mental health support which works for our neurology, and I welcome the call for improvements of mental health services, as the pandemic has shown how vital these services are for many.

I welcome the commitment in the resolution to more community-based care, as it is so important for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions to have access to local treatment in their communities. Forcing people to travel long distances for care places unnecessary stress on people who are already going through a difficult time. The families of those hospitalised far from their home may struggle to visit, which can be harmful for those hospitalised, particularly for those in hospital for mental health reasons.

Finally, the plan to create a Patient Safety Commissioner is so important for ensuring that people are safe and have their rights respected while in hospital. This is particularly important for people with learning disabilities, children and anyone else less able to advocate for themselves while in hospital. Being in hospital is a distressing time for anyone, and knowing that there are people looking out for your safety while you are there can make a huge difference.

I therefore urge conference to support the measures in this resolution to improve disabled people’s lives, and the health of people across Scotland. As we look forward to the future and independence, it is important that Scotland is a place in which everyone can thrive, regardless of their disability or health status. Thank you.