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Humza Yousaf: National Care Service Bill will end ‘postcode lottery’

A National Care Service bill has been published by the Scottish Government (Peter Byrne/PA)
A National Care Service bill has been published by the Scottish Government (Peter Byrne/PA)

Plans for a National Care Service (NCS) will “end the postcode lottery” of social care by holding Scottish ministers to account, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said.

Legislative plans for the social care overhaul have been published by the Scottish Government on Tuesday as it aims to change the way care services are accessed and delivered.

But Scottish Labour have said the Bill is a “power grab” which aims to take power away from local authorities.

The Bill aims to support people in their own homes where possible with seamless transition between services.

Humza Yousaf visit to Falkirk Community Hospital
Humza Yousaf said the NCS will be the most ambitious reform since the NHS was established (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A charter of rights and responsibilities would also be developed for social care with a robust complaints process in place.

And unpaid carers would have the right to breaks under the plans, while visiting rights for residents living in adult care homes would be introduced, giving legal force to Anne’s Law, which seeks to reduce the trauma caused to families unable to see their loved ones during lockdowns.

The Bill also sets out plans to focus on prevention and early intervention before people’s needs escalate.

On a visit to Aberdeen-based charity VSA, which supports people with a wide range of social care needs, Mr Yousaf said: “This is the most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS.

“People have told us they want a National Care Service, accountable to Scottish Ministers, with services designed and delivered locally. That’s exactly what we’re going to deliver.

“The design of the NCS will have human rights embedded throughout, and the actual shape and detail of how the NCS works will be designed with those who have direct experience of accessing and providing social care.

“We are going to end the postcode lottery of care in Scotland.

“Through the National Care Service we’re going to ensure everyone has access to consistently high-quality care and support so they can live a full life.

“This is our ambitious goal and while it will not be easy to achieve it is vital that we do.”

The NCS plans have been met with criticism from the opposition who said the service will take vital responsibilities away from individual health boards who know their patients.

Scottish Labour health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, said: “What this represents is nothing less than the biggest power grab in the history of Holyrood – one that threatens the very existence of local government.

“After years of steadfast opposition to a National Care Service, the SNP is now using the creation of such a service to disempower local government and centralise yet more power.”

She said the transfer of more than 100,000 staff away from local government is a “recipe for chaos and “uncertainty”.

Ms Baillie added: “Make no mistake – this is not a National Care Service. What the SNP and their friends in big business have devised is a national commissioning service which can be used as a fig leaf for centralising power.

“The people of Scotland, especially those who work or live in care, deserve so much better than this.”

Social care minister Kevin Stewart said the NCS will be established by the end of the parliamentary term once the bill has passed through Parliament.

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