Latest developments in National Care Service
The Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport, Maree Todd MSP, has given an update to the Scottish Parliament on the latest moves towards developing a National Care Service for Scotland.
In a letter to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, the Minister outlines the proposed changes to the original Bill that it is intended will establish the National Care Service in law.
The letter describes some changes to the way the Scottish Government intends to deliver the National Care Service. It also reinforces that the overall vision for the National Care Service remains the same – ensuring people of all ages in Scotland can access the support they need to live a full life by improving consistency and quality of social care and community health support.
The updates in the letter are summarised below.
Shared accountability agreement
In July, the Scottish Government announced they had reached an agreement with COSLA, who represent Scotland’s Local Authorities, about accountability arrangements for the National Care Service. The proposed framework will see local authorities and health boards keep service delivery functions, staff and assets.
The Minister has said that the Scottish Government now believes that the aims of the Care Boards, which had been proposed in the original version of the Bill, can be achieved through reforming the current integration authorities. So instead of abolishing existing integration authorities to set up care boards, the intention is to reform integration authorities to retain the knowledge and good work already underway, while still seeking improvements to areas that Scottish Government have said they recognise need reform.
National Care Service Board
The Minister’s letter says the Scottish Government now intend that the reformed authorities would be accountable to a National Care Service Board. This would create a strong oversight of reformed integration authorities and a clear link between local and national shared accountability.
The National Care Service Board would be responsible for reviewing and overseeing the performance of local strategic plans, and have the power to intervene as a last resort to drive and support performance.
The letter also sets out the aim that a National Care Service Board will include people with lived experience, and that voting rights will be extended to more Board members. The Scottish Government intends to co-design the detail of the National Care Service Board with people with lived experience of accessing community health, social work and social care support services, as well as unpaid carers, care providers, workforce and organisational stakeholders.
National Social Work Agency
The Minister’s letter reiterates the Scottish Government’s commitment to establishing a National Social Work Agency (NSWA) and states that COSLA have agreed to work with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to develop the structure and governance of the NSWA.
Children’s and Justice services
A decision has not yet been taken on the possible inclusion of children’s and justice services in the National Care Service. The Scottish Government intends to conduct further engagement with stakeholders to inform a decision about this.
The next stage for the National Care Service Bill is for the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee to produce a report, summarising their scrutiny, before the 31 January 2024 deadline.
You can read the Minister’s full letter to the committee on the Scottish Parliament’s website.