National Care Service will ‘end postcode lottery’

Legislation to establish a National Care Service for Scotland has been announced by the Scottish Government.

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Legislation to establish a National Care Service for Scotland (NCS) will ensure the best possible outcomes for people accessing care and support and end the ‘postcode lottery’ of care, the Scottish Government has said.

The National Care Service Bill will make Scottish Ministers accountable for adult social care in Scotland – a change strongly supported by those responding to the recent consultation on the plans.

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The Bill provides the foundation for the NCS, and enables the fine detail of the new service to be co-designed with people who have direct experience of social care services.

Plans have also been published to explain how that collaboration will work. The aims are to:

  • support people in their own homes or among family, friends and community wherever possible, with seamless transitions between services;
  • create a charter of rights and responsibilities for social care, with a robust complaints and redress process;
  • introduce rights to breaks for unpaid carers
  • introduce visiting rights for residents living in adult care homes, giving legal force to Anne’s Law
  • ensure fair employment practices and national pay bargaining for the social care workforce;
    focus on prevention and early intervention before people’s needs escalate;
  • create a new National Social Work Agency to promote training and development, provide national leadership and set and monitor standards in social work.

On a visit to Aberdeen-based charity VSA, which supports people with a wide range of social care needs, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Humza Yousaf said: “This is the most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS.

“People have told us they want a National Care Service, accountable to Scottish Ministers, with services designed and delivered locally. That’s exactly what we are going to deliver.

“The design of the NCS will have human rights embedded throughout, and the actual shape and detail of how the NCS works will be designed with those who have direct experience of accessing and providing social care.

“We are going to end the postcode lottery of care in Scotland.

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“Through the National Care Service we’re going to ensure everyone has access to consistently high-quality care and support so they can live a full life.

“This is our ambitious goal and while it will not be easy to achieve it is vital that we do.”

Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart said: “One of the key benefits of a National Care Service will be to ensure our social care and social work workforce are valued, and that unpaid carers get the recognition they deserve.

“When this Bill passes we will be able to have the new National Care Service established by the end of this parliament.

“In the interim we will continue to take steps to improve outcomes for people accessing care – working with key partners, including local government, and investing in the people who deliver community health and social care and support.”

Richard Meade, Director of Carers Scotland said “We welcome the publication of this new Bill. There is much to commend it, not least that it sets out in legislation the right for carers to take a break from their caring role.

“However, there is more detail needed on how this legislation will deliver improved services and support to carers and those they care for.

“Moreover, the Government must continue to place priority on making change now – in delivering regular breaks, in bringing services back to pre-pandemic levels and in fulfilling their commitment to abolishing care charging.

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“These simply cannot wait for legislation and the time it will take to establish and embed new systems.”

Chief Operating Officer of VSA Aberdeen John Booth, said: “We welcome the announcement that the National Care Service Bill has been published.

“With this being the biggest reform since the creation of the NHS we will now take the time to properly review the bill to understand the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to co-design the NCS to ensure the voices and needs of the vulnerable people who rely on our vital services are heard.”

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