Putting people at the centre is key to rebuilding - Professor Ian Welsh OBE

In a year like no other, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Scottish Parliament elections have crept up with much less fanfare than you might expect. And yet, the outcome will shape how we deal with some significant issues – rebuilding after Covid-19, the crisis in social care and the climate emergency.

Professor Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland

With these in mind, the ALLIANCE election manifesto, ‘Equally Valued’, sets out our top health and social care priorities for the next Scottish Government, informed by wide consultation with our members.

Covid-19 has affected our lives in ways that were previously unimaginable. As Scotland recovers, we must learn from everyone’s experiences and guarantee no one is left behind. Starting with an independent person centred inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on health and social care, the next Scottish Government should also provide sustainable funding to third sector health and care organisations.

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Though the past year has seen a digital revolution in health and care, it has also revealed a digital divide. The next Scottish Government should adopt a Digital Choice approach to ensure people aren’t excluded because they can’t (or prefer not to) access digital services. We also need greater investment in community health – in particular mental health and wellbeing services, and in appointing Community Links Practitioners to GP practices in Scotland’s most deprived areas.

Whilst the pandemic revealed a host of challenges in social care, the issues have been mounting for years. The time to act has arrived, by appointing a dedicated Minister for Social Care to put the far-reaching recommendations of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care into effect. This includes removing non-residential care charges and increasing the social care budget.

We know that unless human rights form part of the law of the land, they can’t be fully realised, so the ALLIANCE believes the next Scottish Government should seize the opportunity with three key actions – incorporate international treaties to guarantee disabled people’s human rights in law, overhaul mental health law, and adopt a human rights budgeting approach.

The focus on human rights should also be extended to the social security system. Although the Scottish Government has made some welcome changes, the system retains many features of the much-criticised Personal Independence Payment. The next Scottish Government should work with people with lived experience of social security to create a world-leading rights based system of support.

Like Covid-19, the climate emergency is a pressing and urgent challenge. People, health and social care should be at the centre of climate change action. The Scottish Government can help by investing in accessible travel for people who access and deliver health and care services, in environmentally friendly Personal Protective Equipment, and in funding third and independent sector social care organisations to take innovative climate action.

The key to rebuilding after the pandemic is to put people at the centre and base it on a solid foundation of human rights. It’s vital that, regardless of who is elected to the Scottish Parliament, we are all Equally Valued.

Professor Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland

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