Demand for Scottish Government to end National Care Service outsourcing as private firms in line for major tech contract

A six-figure deal to collate key IT data about Scotland’s entire care sector may be outsourced to a major consultancy firm as SNP ministers refuse to rule out further privatisation of the establishment of the National Care Service.

It comes as consultancy giants KPMG confirmed it is not in the running for the contract after voluntarily stepping back from bidding for Scottish Government contracts in January.

The firm won a £550,000 contract to map the models of health and social care in Scotland and produce a “high level road map for delivery” of the National Care Service.

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It followed fellow consultancy giants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, winning two contracts relating to the new care service worth £200,000 in total as the only bidder.

The Scottish Government has come under fire for out sourcing contracts for the National Care Service to private firms. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Scottish Government has come under fire for out sourcing contracts for the National Care Service to private firms. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Scottish Government has come under fire for out sourcing contracts for the National Care Service to private firms. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

This led to outrage from trade unions who accused the Scottish Government of ignoring concerns that private companies have a vested interest in a National Care Service that is open to privatisation.

The SNP and the Scottish Greens have said establishing a National Care Service is a key policy for the coming Holyrood term, with the service due to be fully up and running by 2026.

Nicola Sturgeon said the reform would be a “fitting legacy from the trauma of Covid” and would be the “most significant public service reform” since the establishment of the NHS.

The fresh contract, which is yet to be awarded by the Scottish Government, is a review of the systems and technology used by the social care sector across Scotland.

The company that wins the contract will be instructed to compile a list of “every distinct” organisation delivering social care, including details such as their staff count, and the IT systems they use.

This will cover care delivered by councils and the public sector as well as private care homes and those run by the third sector.

A final report will then provide ministers with recommendations on how a National Care Service’s IT system might be run and how long it could take to “integrate” different systems.

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KPMG confirmed that it was not in the running for the contract, having not bid for “any further work on the National Care Service”.

Concerns have been raised by some about the suitability of private sector companies developing the service and gaining in-depth knowledge of the sector.

However, Ms Sturgeon defended the practice, describing it as “entirely appropriate” for the Government to outsource the contracts for “specialist services”.

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie said there was “no reason” for the outsourcing due to the expertise in the public sector.

She said: "The facts are clear – the SNP is using the National Care Service as a cash cow for the private sector.

“Frankly, there is simply no reason why the Scottish Government is outsourcing lucrative contracts to private companies when there is ample expertise within the legion of social care and health experts in Scotland.

"Scottish Labour is committed to delivering a National Care Service that works for service users and providers, not for big businesses and profiteers."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This work is required to build the evidence base for our data and digital plans in order to make the best possible decisions. All design decisions related to data and digital elements of the National Care Service will be made by Scottish ministers.”

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The spokesman added: “We welcome submissions from organisations with the appropriate skills and expertise to conduct the work required.

“The maximum budget for this project is £450,000 and Scottish ministers will own the information contained within the reports

“The successful bidder will be bound by confidentiality clauses, which restrict how they can use the information gathered during the contract.”

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