Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland recommends new National Care Service

The Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland has recommended a National Care Service be set up with parity to the NHS.

The Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland has recommended the creation of a National Care Service to “drive consistent, high quality social care support”.

Chair of the review Derek Feeley said the new body would bring the “structural change and new accountabilities” the system needs.

The report recommends that accountability for social care support should move from local government to Scottish Ministers, and a Minister should be appointed with specific responsibility for Social Care. The review says this is necessary due to the impact of adult social care on people’s wellbeing, its “deep links to and mutual dependency” with the National Health Service (NHS), and the scale of public funding for it.

“The changes which are required are national,” said Feeley, adding: “we should therefore deal with the social care service in a national way just like our NHS.”

The report said it envisaged an “important and continuing role” for Local Authorities as public providers of social work and social care services, and as partners in Integration Joint Boards, where they will continue to work with their NHS partners and others to meet local needs and “steward” health and social care resources.

A “consistent, national focus” on preventative, early intervention and anticipatory forms of support that shift the emphasis of care “away from crisis intervention and towards better quality of life” was also recommended.

The report recommends that National Care Service for Scotland be established in statute along with, on an equal footing, NHS Scotland to ensure “parity and clarity” with the NHS. Both bodies would report to Scottish Ministers to oversee delivery by individual NHS Boards.

The review considered a process of nationalisation – taking all of adult social care into public ownership – but found that “evidence suggests that nationalisation would not in and of itself improve outcomes for people using care.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the report in parliament and said the government will respond shortly.

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, welcomed the report and called on political leaders to “grab the opportunity for reform with both hands”.

“This is an important piece of work and highlights the huge importance of social care to people in Scotland. Too often it has played second fiddle to the NHS in terms of funding and status but the two go together hand in glove.

“It shouldn’t have taken a worldwide pandemic to realise the value of social care but it has drawn into sharp focus its vital role and that reform is needed now more than ever.

“The review rightly identifies that there are significant gaps between what should be happening in social care and what happens in reality. Ensuring that these are addressed would be a major first step.”

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