Carers bill details thrashed out

Written by Tom Freeman on 26 November 2015 in Feature

Rhoda Grant fails to secure national entitlements in bill 

The Health and Sport Committee thrashed out the amendments at Stage 1 of the Carers’ Bill this week, and the focus was on how universal the new help would be for Scotland’s carers, how much control young carers would have, and how long carers would have to wait to prepare an adult carer support plan.

Labour’s Rhoda Grant lodged a number of amendments, including one of national eligibility criteria which split the Committee in half.

A national entitlement would ensure all the many different kinds of carers would be entitled to the same support argued Grant.


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“I believe that carers who are in critical need of support should get that support, which should be a national entitlement,” she said.

Public Health minister Jamie Hepburn acknowledged the argument.

“However, individual local authorities, as democratic bodies that are accountable to their own electorates, should be able to make decisions that are based on the needs of their caring population and the resources that they have available to meet those needs.

“I want to ensure that there is consistency across the country, which I believe can be achieved through the national matters that we will set out in regulations and which will underpin local eligibility criteria.”

Convener Duncan McNeil used his casting vote against the amendment, but advised the issue to be resolved. Expect it to resurface at Stage 3.

The other issue which divided the Committee was one from Conservative Nanette Milne on discharging from hospital.

Milne cited the example of a carer whose husband was discharged on oxygen at short notice when the carer’s oven had been disconnected at home. “Such appalling situations should not be allowed to happen. They would not happen with proper discharge planning while the patient was in hospital,” she said.

Although Hepburn agreed in principle, he said it would contribute to delayed discharge. “In 2016, we will update and reissue statutory guidance on hospital discharge, with a particular emphasis on carer identification and involvement,” he said.

This time, McNeil supported the amendment, and health boards will have a statutory duty to involve carers in hospital admission and discharge procedures.

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