Review to consider National Care Service in Scotland

Jeane Freeman, Scottish government cabinet secretary for health and sport

An independent review will consider the establishment of a National Care Service north of the border, as part of aims to provide consistent support for people who use services, as well as their carers and families.

The review will look at the experiences of those supported by, and who work, in social care, as well as looking at funding, governance, administration and delivery. It will consider the needs, rights and preferences of people who use services.

Derek Feeley, former director general of health and social care in the Scottish government, will chair the review and report to politicians by January.

Members on the review panel include Malcolm Chisholm, former Scottish Minister for Health and Community Care, Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Better Ageing, Ian Welsh, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance and Göran Henriks, chief executive of Learning and Innovation in Jönköping, Sweden.

Social care supports more than 200,000 people across Scotland – those with disabilities, older people, individuals with mental health problems and those with drug and alcohol problems.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: ‘This independent review will examine how adult social care can be most effectively reformed to deliver a national approach to care and support services – and this will include consideration of a National Care Service.

‘It will also build upon our existing commitments to improving provision – long standing issues in adult social care have been thrown into sharp relief during the pandemic, and they demand our attention.

‘We owe it to those who use and work in adult social care services to acknowledge these challenges, to learn from them, and to consider carefully how we can most effective plan for the future.’

Robert Kilgour, executive chairman of Renaissance Care, which operates 15 care homes in Scotland, agreed there was a need for a wide-ranging debate on how social care was provided. However, he said there was a more ‘urgent’ need for an inquiry into Covid-related deaths to help protect vulnerable residents, staff and families from a second spike this winter.

There have been more than 20,700 positive cases of Covid-19 in Scotland and over 2,490 deaths.

Kilgour said: ‘We need this nationwide, independent inquiry now, not in a year’s time and I call on the Scottish government to do the right thing.’

Donald Macaskill, Scottish Care chief executive, added: ‘It is sad that it has taken a global pandemic to highlight the faults in our social care system when those who provide and work in care have been talking about under-resourcing, lack of prioritisation and focus for many years.

‘Nevertheless, I am pleased to see the establishment of the independent review and the independent care sector looks forward to working with the review group.

‘Theirs is not an easy task. If we want to create a care service where people are treated equally, where regardless of your condition and life support needs you are able to get care free at the point of need, where workers are given terms and conditions which value their role then this will result in a massive fiscal outlay for all of society. It is right that we should have this debate and as a society consider the options which will lead us to having a high quality, rights based social care system.’