Scottish Government seeks public's views on National Care Service
A consultation has been launched seeking the public's views ahead of the creation of a National Care Service.
The Scottish Government said the service will make sure everyone who needs it can expect the same standards of care, wherever they live in Scotland.
The service aims to deliver person-centred care that supports people in a way that suits their needs.
At a minimum it will cover adult social care services but its scope could be extended to other groups, such as children and young people, community justice, alcohol and drug services and social work.
The consultation proposes community health and social care boards to strengthen the voice of the local population – people with lived experience and local elected members would sit alongside professionals.
Kevin Stewart, minister for social care, said: "The importance of our social care services has never been clearer. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our nation’s carers, paid and unpaid, for the commitment and compassion we have seen throughout the pandemic.
"The Scottish Government commissioned the Independent Review of Adult Social Care during the pandemic, because it was clear we needed to do things better in future.
"We have already made significant improvements, with reforms such as the integration of health and social care, and implementation of the real living wage policy for adult social care workers and this year the Scottish Government pledged £64.5m to fully fund the pay increase. But we can go further. What we are now proposing is the biggest public sector reform for decades, since the creation of the National Health Service.
"I am committed to implementing the recommendations of the Independent Review and staying true to the spirit of that report by building a system with human rights at the heart of it."
In a statement, the Social Covenant Steering Group, which will advise on the creation of a National Care Service, said: "Most of us have waited many years to see plans for major improvements in the way social care support is delivered and we welcome the publication of this consultation.
"Many people may feel they have been consulted before and are keen to see some action. But this time it is an important legal step in in order that a bill can be put to parliament.
"So, it is important that as many people as possible including; current users of social care support, unpaid carers, the workforce and everyone else who cares about this vital support will take this opportunity to express their views on the kind of system we need to enable everyone to reach their potential."
Councillor Alison Evison, COSLA president, accused the consultation of cutting through the heart of the way Scotland is governed.
She claimed that it has "serious implications for local government", going as far to say it was an "attack on localism and on the rights of local people to make decisions democratically for their place".
Evison continued: "It once again brings a centralising approach to how decisions which should be taken locally are made.
"We welcomed large parts of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care and have been keen to get on and deliver, however the vision this consultation sets out goes beyond the Feeley report. It isn’t evidence based and will take years to deliver – years when we should be making improvements which will benefit all users of social care services.
"Councils know their communities and all the evidence suggests that local democratic decision making works. Councils have shown time and time again during the last 18 months of the pandemic that we can deliver for the communities we serve when we are trusted and resourced to do so.
"It is deeply concerning that the consultation is also a considerable departure from the recommendations of the independent review set up to look at adult social care.
"The lack of prior engagement with local government is not new – the partnership between the Scottish Government and local government which we have been seeking to build, continues to elude us in practice and it is the communities we serve who are losing out.
"Let’s be clear - this is not a 'thinly veiled' attack on local government – there is no subtlety to it and, sadly for local communities, the 'onion peel' of local government services by this government shows no sign of letting up.
"On behalf of the communities we serve, COSLA and local government will engage constructively with the consultation process.
"People may be surprised by the extent of services covered by this consultation and I would urge as many as possible to respond to it, as this could really be the end for anything other than central control in Scotland."