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27 May 2014
Third sector to be “key partner” in future of health and social care

Third sector to be “key partner” in future of health and social care

Charities and voluntary organisations will help redesign the future of health and social care services, according to Health Secretary Alex Neil.
Speaking at the Health and Social Care Alliance’s conference on Scotland’s future, Neil said: “It’s important we treat the third sector in its entirety as a key partner. Not just a stakeholder, but a key partner in the design of services as well as the delivery of services.”
The Government has been criticised for not giving a greater statutory role to the third sector in recent integration legislation, but Neil said: “Although because of the budgetary requirements the core of the partnership boards are representatives of the health boards and local authorities, very clearly, the third sector should be represented in all of these boards and play a full part in the design and delivery of services.”
Jane-Claire Judson, Director of Diabetes Scotland, said she welcomed recognition of their representative role: “But if you look at some practical issues like budgets, how resources are shared, the third sector is asked into the process too late. Quite often we are asked to deliver a service once it’s been decided what that service will look like,” she said.
Neil said it will “absolutely” be a requirement of the integration boards to involve the third sector, and the omission from legislation was so that accountability to the Auditor General remained with health boards and local authorities. “But they will be at the table. They’ll be at the top table, they’ll be at the locality table and they’ll be heavily involved in decisions,” he said.
The Alliance used the event to launch a new strategic document, ‘Scotland: small country, big ideas – Imagining the future’, which has contributions from a selection of voices from its member organisations. The document uses the constitutional debate as a platform to argue for a person-centred approach to service redesign, with human rights at the core. “Whatever the future of Scotland, what matters most is our citizens and communities are recognised as our biggest asset,” writes alliance Chief Executive Ian Welsh in the Introduction.
Neil agreed human rights were central: “It’s important rights are involved in this as well as services and processes. In terms of an independent Scotland, we would build a bill of rights into a constitution of an independent Scotland. It would be a written constitution. One of the problems of the UK, which is I think we’re the only advanced country that does not have a written constitution, is parliament in one single vote can change any part of the constitution, let alone any other legislation. We believe in building, right from the beginning, a very strong bill of rights.”
Labour’s Neil Findlay said rights should be led by local government. “I hope we have enhanced devolution that legislates and recognises the role of local government,” he said.

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