Scottish government to meet increased social care costs

Jeane Freeman, Scottish government cabinet secretary for health and sport

Scottish councils have been asked to increase support for homecare and nursing and care operations to help reduce delayed discharges and free up hospital beds.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has told the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) that, subject to expenditure being aligned to local plans, the Scottish government would meet additional costs to increase support and staff capacity in social care.

The move aims to help the care system adapt to increased pressure placed on it by Covid-19, with many people requiring continued support, even if they have not contracted the virus.

Freeman said: ‘We have placed the NHS on an emergency footing and we also need to increase the capacity in our social care sector.

‘Extensive work is already underway by health and social care partnerships to free up hospital beds and care for older people, and others in need of support, in care homes and in our communities.

‘We have now informed councils that any additional expenditure to maximise the care available to our communities, aligned to work that is already underway, will be covered by the Scottish government.’

COSLA’s health and social care spokesperson councillor Stuart Currie said: ‘The Scottish government and local government have shared leadership to ensure the entire system is working together to optimise the impact on the wellbeing of our communities. Work is underway locally to do this and today’s announcement gives welcome assurance to the sector about the steps which will be taken to maximise the care available to our communities.’

COSLA guidance will be issued in due course to support commissioners to protect the resilience of the social care sector and ensure they remain operationally and financially viable. 

Scottish Care said it was ‘pleased’ with the development. ‘We look forward too working with colleagues in COSLA to ensure that this support gets to hard hit providers and frontline care workers,’ it said. 

As of Tuesday morning, there were more than 6,700 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, with 336 deaths, 14 of which have been in Scotland.