National Care Service: Cosla demands SNP answers over widening scope of plans

COUNCIL leaders have demanded that SNP and Green ministers explain why drug and alcohol and children’s services were included in plans to set up a National Care Service at the 11th hour.

The SNP has been accused of a “blatant power grab” after including a host of other locally-delivered services in the plans.

But the Scottish Government’s Socal Care Minister has insisted the ambitions is to create a “comprehensive community health and social care service”.

Cosla, the umbrella organisation for Scottish councils, has claimed it was given just a few hours’ notice that the scope of the huge overhaul of public services was to be expanded.

MSPs will debate the proposals for a National Care Service at Holyrood on Thursday.

Alison Evison, the president of Cosla, has called for answers over why many services were swept up in the proposals at the last minute, including several beyond the recommendations of the Feeley review of adult social care – which kickstarted calls for the National Care Service plans to be investigated.

READ MORE: National Care Service plan: Cosla warns council funding ‘in jeopardy’

Ms Evison has also warned that no detail about how a National Care Service, set to be on the same footing as the NHS, will be funded.

She said: “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 and 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.”

Ms Evison added: “Notably there was no discussion with local government about the increased scope of the proposals to include children services, community justice, alcohol and drug services, social work, 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.

READ MORE: Scotland’s drug deaths: Care service plans could sweep up rehab provision

“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.”

The Scottish Tories have warned the expanded proposals are a “direct assault” on local councils.

The party’s social care spokesperson, Craig Hoy, said: “The proposals for a National Care service go beyond the plans set out in the Feeley review into adult social care. It is yet another blatant power grab by the SNP Government.

“After years of hollowing out councils, the SNP Government is now mounting a direct assault on local government, scrapping local accountability and imposing total ministerial control.”

He added: “The SNP have failed to outline exactly how much these vast reforms of programmes are going to cost.

“The Scottish Conservatives remain deeply concerned about the direction of travel for our care services under the SNP.”

Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to delivering a National Care Service by the end of this parliament in order to end the postcode lottery in the provision of care services in Scotland

“The Independent Review of Adult Social Care found the current way of working have not fully delivered the improvements intended to be achieved by integration of health and social care. 

“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.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992