Scottish Government questioned over scope of proposals for National Care Service

An expansion of the services that could be swept into a National Care Service (NCS) has come under scrutiny by the body representing Scotland’s 32 councils.

Alison Evison, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), said the Scottish Government needed to explain a “last-minute” decision to include other local authority responsibilities in its consultation on creating an NCS.

She said the proposals now go “way beyond” the recommendations set out in the Feeley Review of adult social care, taking in children’s services, community justice, alcohol and drug services and others.

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“The proposed scope of the National Care Service represents a significant expansion of the recommendations contained in the Independent Review of Adult Social Care (IRASC) and what had previously been outlined by the Scottish Government,” she said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PAFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

"All I am seeking, on behalf of local government, is an explanation as to why this is the case. If there is nothing to hide, it should be a fairly straightforward question to answer.”

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Ms Evison said there had also been no discussion with councils about the increased scope of the proposals, which also include social work and elements of mental health services.

"This lack of engagement is why we are particularly concerned that there are no costings set out in the consultation relating to the development of the proposed National Care Service or how it would be funded, as well as limited evidence to support the expanded proposals or to explain the implications for the many people who use these essential services,” she said.

President of Cosla, Alison Evison.President of Cosla, Alison Evison.
President of Cosla, Alison Evison.

“Local government will continue to work in a collaborative way with the Scottish Government to reform social care, and it is vital that we have a transparent conversation about the investment and support needed to do this.

"However, we continue to believe that services should be designed and delivered as close as possible to the people who use them on a daily basis, and not centralised as is being proposed.”

Ms Evison’s comments come ahead of the publication of Nicola Sturgeon’s Programme for Government, which will be presented to MSPs on Tuesday.

Scottish Conservative social care spokesman Craig Hoy MSP also said the government’s proposals went “beyond the plans set out in the Feeley review”, describing the NCS as “another blatant power grab by the SNP Government”.

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The Feeley review, an independent report into adult social care in Scotland, was announced by Ms Sturgeon in last year’s Programme for Government. Chaired by Derek Feeley, a former Scottish Government director-general for health and social care and chief executive of NHS Scotland, the review concluded in January.

Social care minister Kevin Stewart said the Feely report had found the current way of working was failing to deliver the improvements intended by integration of health and social care services and the government intended having the NCS running by 2026.

He said: “Our ambition is to create a comprehensive community health and social care service that wraps around families and smooth transitions between different categories of care.

"The consultation seeks views on including those services that are already currently covered by integration arrangements, although this varies in different parts of the country.

"We are still very early in the consultation process and we look forward to considering all feedback when the consultation closes later this year.”

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