National Care Service: Leading medics welcome delay in plans for Scotland's new social care service
Earlier this week, newly-appointed social care minister Maree Todd wrote to the health, social care and sport committee informing the body the first vote on the new care service for Scotland was to be pushed back until after the Holyrood summer recess.
Ms Todd said this would allow for "compromise" to be reached with the service’s critics, who have pointed to a lack of clarity in the plans to take responsibility for adult social care from health boards and give it to new regional boards, which would ultimately be responsible to Scottish ministers.
"This Government remains committed to delivering a National Care Service to improve quality, fairness and consistency of provision that meets individuals' needs,” the letter reads. "The scale of this ambition will require the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill to progress in order to ensure sustainable social care services moving forward.
"We wish to use the time ahead of the stage one debate to find compromise and reach consensus with those who have raised concerns during the stage one scrutiny undertaken so far."
Colin Poolman, the Royal College of Nusing’s (RCN) Scotland director, said tackling the workforce crisis in Scotland’s health and care services must be a “top priority” for the First Minister, as he welcomed the pause of the NCS Bill.
“The RCN has serious concerns about the Bill and we are calling for the Scottish Government to take time to engage properly with stakeholders, including staff working at all levels within the social care and community health sectors, to develop detailed plans for reform prior to taking forward primary legislation,” he said.
“Rather than simply pushing through expensive and disruptive structural overhaul without a clear understanding of how to fix the current problems facing the sector, ministers need to focus now on tackling the workforce crisis in social care and community health.”
Prof Andrew Elder, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: “We welcome the opportunity to spend more time exploring the detail of how a National Care Service might deliver the outcomes desired. We request, given the appropriate emphasis on equality, that the reinstatement of a specific ministerial portfolio for older people is considered.
“Based on current trajectories, we suspect that meeting these ambitions will be difficult. Therefore, the Scottish Government must be innovative in its approach. It must seek advice on innovation from a wide range of experts, including doctors and other professionals working in our NHS and social care, and the Medical Royal Colleges. Patients and their families are experts too – and must be engaged more effectively in system redesign.
“It’s only by working with the healthcare professions and the patients they care for that the Government can find solutions to the challenges in our healthcare system.
“This includes delayed discharges, understaffing, care quality in remote and rural settings, rota gaps, and the “brain drain” of talented medical professionals to health systems around the world.”
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