Royal Commission Chair on long-term care for elderly approached
Lord Stewart Sutherland has revealed he was involved in “secret” discussions with the SNP Government around its plans for health and social care integration shortly after the 2007 election.
Sutherland, who chaired the Royal Commission on long-term care for the elderly, said he was approached by then Public Health Minister Shona Robison to write a report on integration for the minority government, however he turned them down.
Addressing Holyrood magazine’s Integrating Health and Social Care conference in Edinburgh last week, Sutherland said the civil servants had already compiled enough evidence to put together some pilot studies, so he advised Robison and then Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon that they didn’t need another report and instead told them to “just get on with it.”
Sutherland told delegates that at the same time as he was engaged in “confidential” talks with the SNP he had also been approached by Dr Richard Simpson MSP about Labour’s plans to move in the same direction. However, he praised the Scottish Government for “seizing the mettle”.
“They got on with it, much to their credit, I have to say. I don’t think enough credit has been given for that.”
Sutherland, who backed the Government’s plans to use lead commissioning as a way of improving social care in Scotland when it was announced last year, stated that the pilots were “absolutely the right approach” as, “different parts of the country have different needs, different structures and they will deal with this in different ways.”
Also addressing the conference was Sir John Arbuthnott, who chaired Labour’s expert group on its plan for a National Care Service. Arbuthnott said integration is an “important” topic that we’ve been discussing for “too long”, but added that he thinks we are, “at last on our way to making significant progress.”