Sturgeon’s successor should drop National Care Service Bill, say opposition MSPs

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Nicola Sturgeon’s successor should drop plans for a National Care Service (NCS), Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats have said.

The two parties said the Bill for a new, centralised care service should be axed altogether.

Recently, a number of unions, think tanks and charities have also called for a pause in the Bill, which would set up a framework for the NCS, saying more time is needed to design it.

Speaking ahead of Scottish Labour’s annual party conference in Edinburgh, the party’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie noted a number of Holyrood committees have voiced concern on the Bill.

Jackie Baillie
Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie said the National Care Service will not help those using social care, or those working in the sector (PA)

“What is being offered is nothing more than a national centralisation service which will do nothing to support care receivers or the workforce.

“Workers don’t want it, care providers don’t want it, experts have raised the alarm, and parliamentary committee after committee have demanded that the Bill be paused.

“Not a single penny of the estimated £1 billion required to create the service will go to providing care.

“Instead of wasting money the SNP should plough funding into care packages and to social care pay.

“That would overnight transform people’s experience of social care.

“SNP leadership candidates need to put common sense before the pride of the outgoing First Minister.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton issued his own call for the Bill to be dropped (Lesley Martin/PA)

He said: “After abandoning their plans to break up the UK, the first thing Nicola Sturgeon’s successor must do is scrap the billion-pound bureaucratic takeover by ministers of the social care sector. This plan is doomed to fail.

“The Government promised to eradicate delayed discharge eight years ago, but it is now worse than ever because they failed to tackle the shortages in social care.

“Like many Scots, Scottish Liberal Democrats have had enough of this conveyor belt of broken promises.

“The Government must listen to Cosla, trade unions, health board bosses, its own backbenchers and numerous other organisations when they say its proposals won’t work.”

Kevin Stewart, social care minister, said the establishment of the National Care Service “will be the most ambitious reform of public services since devolution” and was a “key government commitment”.

“Our work to deliver on the government’s priorities will continue while a new leader is put in place. The passage of the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill remains on schedule,” he said.

“The National Care Service will provide support to anyone in Scotland who needs it through social work, social care, and support for carers.

“The National Care Service will ensure our workforce is supported and rewarded, but we’re not waiting for the introduction of the National Care Service to bring in better conditions for workforce.

“We are already increasing pay, improving terms and conditions in the sector, and developing clear career pathways, all backed by Fair Work principles.

“Change of this scale is necessary to deliver the consistency and quality of care and support across Scotland that people deserve.

“It reinforces our commitment to take long-term action to change our society and make it a fairer and more equal place to live.”

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