Health and Social Care
Update to Health, Social Care and Sport Committee on the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill
The National Care Service (NCS) (Scotland) Bill was first introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 20 June 2022. Bills are proposed laws that are assessed by the Scottish Parliament. The NCS Bill is currently at Stage 1 and the general principles of the National Care Service are being examined by the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee. More information on the Bill process can be found on the Scottish Parliament’s website.
The Minister for Mental Wellbeing, Social Care and Sport, Maree Todd, has written to the Health, Social Care and Sport committee in response to Stage 1 scrutiny of the Bill. The Minister’s full letter can be read on the Scottish Parliament’s website.
Summarised below are updates from the letter on:
- the shared accountability agreement
- the National Care Service Board
- the National Social Work Agency (NSWA)
- children’s services
- justice services
The Scottish Government is making some changes to the way we’re going to deliver the NCS, but our key aim remains the same. We’re still committed to ensuring people of all ages in Scotland can access the support they need to live a full life by improving consistency and quality of social care and community health support.
Shared accountability agreement
Discussions with local authorities and NHS Boards have been ongoing since the summer on a variety of issues. Within our proposed new national framework, local authorities and health boards will keep service delivery functions, staff and assets.
We now believe we can achieve the aims of our proposed Care Boards through reforming the current integration authorities. While there’s still significant change needed at local level to bring consistently good quality services across the country, it’s important that we don’t bring about widespread change just for the sake of it. Instead, Ministers intend to make amendments to the legislation which allow us to keep the knowledge and good work already happening in this area, whilst improving the areas we know desperately need reform.
National Care Service Board (The Board)
In order to make sure there’s strong oversight of reformed integration authorities and a clear link between local and national shared accountability, Ministers will put forward amendments to the legislation which will make sure the reformed authorities are accountable to a National Care Service Board.
The National Care Service Board will be responsible for reviewing and overseeing the performance of local strategic plans. To support this, we are proposing to transfer Ministerial powers of intervention to the National Care Service Board. This will allow the Board to invoke those powers as a last resort and give it the levers needed to drive and support performance and take action if required.
The involvement of people with lived experience will remain at the heart of these reforms, including at decision making level by extending who on the Board has voting rights. The detail of this reform will be co-designed with people with lived experience of accessing community health, social work and social care support services, as well as unpaid carers, care providers, workforce and organisational stakeholders.
National Social Work Agency
We are committed to establishing a National Social Work Agency (NSWA) and COSLA leaders have agreed to work with the Scottish Government and our key stakeholders regarding the structure and governance of the NSWA. We will provide further information on the NSWA’s establishment in the coming months.
Children’s and Justice services
A decision has not yet been taken on the possible inclusion of children’s and justice services in the NCS. Any decision on the inclusion of children’s and justice services within the NCS will be informed by engagement with key stakeholders.
We will continue to prioritise working with children’s and justice teams and people with lived experience, as we seek to understand how the Scottish Government can continue to support children’s and justice services across Scotland.
The next step is for the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee to produce a report, summarising their scrutiny, in advance of the Stage 1 deadline which has been set for 31 January 2024.
We remain committed to delivering a National Care Service to improve quality, fairness and consistency of provision that meets individuals’ needs. You can find further information on the National Care Service at gov.scot/ncs.