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by Colin Poolman
15 February 2022
Associate Feature: Recognising the role of nursing

Associate Feature: Recognising the role of nursing

The proposal for a National Care Service will be one of the most significant changes to health and social care. With nursing set to be the largest workforce and nursing services the largest proportion of what the proposed NCS will deliver, it is vital that the views of the profession are taken into account.

There is no clear evidence which shows that one specific model of delivery and funding of social care would be inherently better for Scotland than another. Whatever model is pursued, it must be properly resourced, must recognise the professional nursing contribution and must move away from a commissioning process based on cost to a process based on needs and outcomes.

RCN members have identified both merits and risks of the current proposals and we have discussed these recently with the Minister for Social Care, Kevin Stewart MSP. We remain concerned with the pace of change and the aspiration to have legislation drafted by the summer. We’ve also identified some gaps in thinking; a lack of consideration of governance issues, a need for more detailed thought about how mental health services fit into the current proposals and an urgent need to consider how a National Care Service would work with the NHS and not simply exacerbate existing issues.

However, even under this rapid timetable for reorganisation, social care users and staff cannot wait for an NCS to be developed. Change is needed now, indeed, these changes are necessary now to ensure that any service redesign is successful. The current levels of nursing vacancies across social care and community services are simply not sustainable. Implementation of safe staffing legislation for social care and improvements to pay, terms and conditions for social care staff are needed now and they simply cannot wait.

This article is sponsored by the Royal College of Nursing.

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