Alzheimer Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government’s publication of a draft Bill for the establishment of a National Care Service in Scotland. Whilst we are still considering the detail of the draft Bill and associated documents, we believe that the fundamental principles set out within the Bill reflect the intention of the recent Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland to deliver positive transformational change to our approach to social care in Scotland.
However, while we recognise that this is a positive step forward, we also stress that our current health and social care system is far too stretched and too many people are in crisis because they are not able to access the help they need, when they need it.
People living with dementia today, and those who care for them, simply do not have the time to wait for three or four years for the improvements that we hope a National Care Service may bring. We already have progressive national dementia policy commitments in Scotland which have been informed by people living with dementia and their carers. However, there is a substantial gap between national commitments and the delivery of those commitments in people's lives where they matter most.
The draft Bill is silent on the inequality of people living with advanced dementia having to pay social care costs for the health and specialist nursing care they need in advanced illness.
The publication of this Bill is not a substitute for immediate action in response to the social care crisis. We need transformative change now, and we need action to deliver on the existing dementia strategy commitments to lay the foundations for the proposed National Care Service.
Alzheimer Scotland will continue to engage in the legislative process of the National Care Service Bill to inform and influence the delivery of a system which best meets the needs of people living with dementia in Scotland. We will also continue to campaign for action now to improve the lives of those living with dementia, or caring for someone with dementia today.
What is the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill?
The Bill allows the Scottish Government to transfer responsibility for social care from local authorities to a new, national service. Scottish Ministers are also able to transfer healthcare functions from the NHS and local health boards to the National Care Service. Care or health services that are transferred to the new service could be delivered nationally or locally. Local services will become the responsibility of new ‘care boards’.
The Bill also includes other changes to care provision including:
- enabling information sharing between the National Care Service and the NHS.
- introducing a right to breaks for carers.
- giving rights to people living in adult care home to see the people important to them (this is sometimes referred to as ‘Anne’s Law’).
Details about the Bill, including the draft of the Bill itself and explanatory notes, are available here.