A CHARITY has warned that a lack of details around the National Care service proposals is a “nuisance” – meaning faith is needed in SNP ministers to scramble towards the end of the legislative process.
MSPs heard that £70m budget cuts could also have an impact on the plans, while ministers were criticised for failing to draw up details about how care boards would operate.
Under the Scottish Government proposals, adult social care will be centralised, with ministers responsible.
Health Secretary Humza Yosuaf has described the project as “one of the most ambitious reforms of public services since the creation of the National Health Service”.
Adam Stachura, head of policy and communications at Age Scotland, told Holyrood’s Social Justice Committee that “there’s a lot to be welcome” in the principles of the National Care Service legislation.
But he warned “there’s not a lot to really dig into”, due to the vagueness of the plans, leaving the public “relying on the Scottish Government to do it right at the end”.
He added: “The lack of further details is a nuisance in terms of trying to work out where there could be changes.”
Mr Stachura stressed that the social care system in Scotland does need improved.
He said: “Social care fundamentally needs reformed in Scotland. I don’t think, for a long time, it’s been working as well as possible for people that require it and for those in the future.
“For the first time we will actually see the government being more accountable, at last, the public on delivery of social care, which has been missing.
“I think that the impact on Covid-19 and the withdrawal of packages across the country, no-one was responsible for that.”
Professor Pauline Nolan, head of leadership and civic participation at Inclusion Scotland, warned about the impact of budget cuts on delivering the care service.
She told MSPs that “we are in a time of cuts again”.
Professor Nolan added: “This impacts everything. I fear that it’s going to impact the delivery of this service.”
As part of the £615m of cuts announced by the Deputy First Minister last week, £70m of savings has been earmarks from social care including the establishment of the national care service.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the cuts “included rephasing some social care spending” but added that “despite this, we continue to progress our work to deliver a national care service”.
Concerns have also been raised about proposed care boards, which the Scottish Government intends to ensure decisions are made locally.
Paul Traynor, head of external affairs for Carers Trust Scotland, said: “The lack of detail in relation to care boards and their relationship with the IJBs is really interesting.
“There is not any real detail in the bill of what that means. Does one replace the other?”
Cara Stevenson of GMB Scotland’s women’s campaign unit said: “Our position is social care is in crisis now and there’s no reason why changes can’t start happening now.
“Never mind co-design or other discussions, we know what the issues are in social care.
“We can’t recruit staff, we can’t retain them – that’s a big issue for service users and people who rely on that service, that’s something that we need to be doing at this second.”
Discussing the desire of social care staff to be involved in the co-design process, Ms Stevenson said the Bill in its current form asks staff to “take a leap of faith” on how the service would look.
She said: “The Bill itself, it does not achieve the aim to improve the quality and consistency of social work and social care services in Scotland – it’s not prescriptive enough as yet.
“What we’re seeing is actually trying to get the workforce involved in this is quite difficult because there’s not enough in the Bill for them to want to be involved in it.”
Ms Stevenson said “you can’t imagine” what staff went through during the pandemic, adding: “To now be turning around with something that’s quite non-prescriptive and subject to co-design and ask the workforce to take a leap of faith on this, I think it’s really, really difficult to get people involved in it and get people to support it.”