Firstly, it would be remiss not to mention what was included that could make a rapid impact for disabled people, people with long term conditions and unpaid carers, and some big long term projects getting underway. The publication of an NHS Recovery Plan is much needed, after a year of disruption to services which has shaken some people’s faith in the system. And a Women’s Health Plan is promised before the end of the summer that has the potential to be transformative. Both of these cover areas that people with lived experience have had a major part in shaping through the ALLIANCE’s engagement activity.
And significantly, another major reform that people with lived experience have been calling for will begin to take shape, with the first fledgling steps towards a National Care Service. After years of inaction it does feel like major improvements to social care may be in the pipeline at last.
It is perhaps symbolic, but the change in job title for the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care is also a welcome statement of intent for us and many ALLIANCE members and we are pleased to welcome Humza Yousaf into this important new role.
That said, there are a few actions on the social care front that could have been picked off in 100 days but were missing from the FM’s immediate plans. For instance, abolishing non-residential care charges is something promised in the government’s manifesto that sadly doesn’t seem to have made the cut for the top of the to-do list.
We welcome the First Minister’s commitment to a full inquiry of how Covid-19 was handled in Scotland. However, with public inquiries into wars and disasters often taking many years to conclude, there are risks that this one could end up being a historical record by the time of its completion, rather than something that – with Covid-19 still ongoing – we can use the learning from to make changes in the here and now. It was with that in mind that the ALLIANCE joined with partners to ask the First Minister to convene a summit on the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people and people living with long term conditions, which has the potential to lead to immediate improvements.
Finally, with the past year demonstrating the importance of putting human rights at the heart of decision making, it was a disappointing not to see plans to incorporate human rights instruments into Scots law not put into action in the first 100 days. However, as with many of the measures mentioned above, progress to this point has taken years – so if real change for people is the end result, we may have to have a little patience!