LIBERAL Democrats have warned that SNP plans to set up a publicly-funded National Care Service risk handing more power to ministers – claiming the plans will “cut local accountability out of the process”.
The Scottish Government is investigating whether social care and other services such as drug rehabilitation, could be restructured in a model similar to the NHS.
A National Care Service consultation document is set to be published today and run until October 18.
But the Scottish LibDems have urged caution, claiming that the plans will centralise social care.
The LibDems support recommendations of the independent review of adult social care that vast changes are needed, but the party does not back the creation of a National Care Service set out by the review – raising concerns the plans risks losing local innovation and skill and could repeat the mistakes made during the formation of Police Scotland.
The party’s health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said any new plans should “give people control over their care” as well as “accountability over the organisations who deliver it”.
He added: “The Scottish Government’s proposals cut local accountability out of the process and give more power to ministers to dictate how things must be done.
“This is the same ministers whose disastrous decisions saw thousands of untested and Covid-positive patients discharged from hospitals and into care homes with tragic consequences, despite warnings from care homes themselves.
“Rather than building a new organisation at the beck-and-call of ministers, we should be focusing on improving care with national standards and entitlements for users and by ensuring that the hard work of staff is recognised with a step change in pay and conditions.
“We have seen how previous SNP exercises in centralisation fair with the police and economic development, let’s not repeat those expensive mistakes with the care sector.”
The LibDem plans would scrap charges for care services deliver at home and making sure people do not have to pay for their care when they have advanced dementia.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart have taken part in meetings of a social covenant steering group, set up to help guide the development of a National Care Service with those with day-to-day experience of social care.
The group includes unpaid carers, disability rights activists, a care home resident, a campaigner for the needs of relatives of those in care homes, a social care worker and others with significant experience of the way services are currently delivered.
Speaking after the first covenant meeting, Mr Stewart said: “It is extremely important that we listen to people with lived experience – the real experts – to hear about the highs and lows of social care services.
“It is by doing this that we will really find out what’s good about the services people receive, more importantly, what needs to improve for those who use and deliver social care.”