Social care services in Scotland approaching 'crisis point'
Some social care services in Scotland are approaching “crisis point” amid increasing pressures, according to the public spending watchdog.
Audit Scotland said urgent action was needed to address what it called “critical issues” and meet the needs of vulnerable people.
In a joint briefing published alongside the Accounts Commission, Audit Scotland said the pandemic had exacerbated long-standing challenges, while highlighting “the precarious situation of many vulnerable people who rely on social care or support”.
Over £5bn a year is spent on delivering social care services in Scotland, yet the watchdog said some services are at “near crisis point”.
Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland, said: “We cannot wait another five years until the planned National Care Service is in place. Action must happen now, and at speed, by the Scottish Government.
“There must be clear timescales for delivery, demonstrating that lessons have been learnt from previous reforms of health and social care services. This will create a strong foundation for the government’s vision to create a National Care Service.”
According to the report, the 200,000-strong social care workforce is under “immense pressure and feels undervalued”. The sector faces ongoing recruitment problems, despite demand for its services continuing to increase.
William Moyes, chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “There are significant problems with the delivery of social care services. These services are vital, yet we have a workforce that’s not adequately valued or regarded. Staffing shortages are a major issue across the sector and not all people’s needs are being met.”
Commenting on the report, Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: "This report is a clear and direct warning to the Scottish Government regarding the parlous state of social care in Scotland.
"It is all too clear that, under the SNP's watch, staff have been undervalued, service users have been disempowered and that the sector has been plunged into a recruitment crisis. Instead of funding prevention, the system funds crisis and many people have been left abandoned without care packages in place.”