National Care Service recommended as solution to adult social care crisis

An independent review into the future of adult social care has recommended that a National Care Service, similar to the NHS, be set up in Scotland to tackle the crisis in the sector.

The report, led by Derek Feeley, issued more than 50 recommendations to the Scottish Government, including making care services free at the point of need for non-residential care in communities or at home.

It also adds that residential care homes should be funded by individuals on a means-tested basis, but did not outline the exact details of such a system, with a recommendation to “exercise caution”.

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The creation of a national care service would sit on an equal footing to the NHS and would be created to raise the quality of care.

An independent review into adult social care has recommended the creation of a National Care Service

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Announcing the details of his report, Mr Feeley said: “This is a time to be bold and radical. Scotland needs a National Care Service to deliver the high quality, human rights-based services people need to life fulfilling lives, whatever their circumstances.

“Scotland has ground-breaking legislation on social care, but there is a gap, sometimes a chasm, between the intent and the lived experiences of those who access support.

"We have a system that gets unwarranted local variation, crisis intervention, a focus on inputs, a reliance on the market and an undervalued workforce.

“If we want a different set of results, we need a different system. That’s why I want to see a National Care Service, delivered in partnership with the people who rely on it and with the workforce, which provides the opportunity for everyone in Scotland to flourish.”

Other recommendations included a need for care home operators to be transparent with the financial backing and for improved pay and terms and conditions for workers.

In response, health secretary Jeane Freeman said she would set out the Scottish Government’s response at a later date.

She said: “The report is a substantial piece of work, which makes robust recommendations for changing the way we provide care.

"Its recommendations are an important step towards the creation of a National Care Service for Scotland, which can enable us to improve the experiences of everybody who uses social care support, their carers, their families and the workforce.”

A National Care Service is a flagship Scottish Labour policy and was backed by the SNP in their Programme for Government in September.

It was also promoted by the Scottish Socialist Party.

Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said: “Scottish Labour has advocated for a National Care Service since 2011. It is welcome to see our proposal backed up by the independent review. It is clear that after 14 years in power it is time for the SNP Government to take responsibility for improving social care services.

“Social care workers are at the heart of a caring and well-functioning care service and it’s time we started to value those who care for the ones we love. Scottish Labour are further calling for a £15-an-hour pay increase for care workers.

“A National Care Service that puts people before profit is the only way forward. The Scottish Government must now listen and take steps to make this happen. We cannot allow our care service to be further weakened by inaction and slow responses to urgent need.”

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