Charities feel used by ‘backroom’ national care service deal

Charity organisations were 'not consulted' in a national care service deal despite a commitment of co-designing the service.

Charities feel used by ‘backroom’ national care service deal, committee told iStock

Charities supporting those with lived experience of social care feel “used” by a “backroom” partnership national care service deal by the Scottish Government, Cosla and the NHS, a Holyrood committee has heard.

During the summer, ministers announced legal responsibility for the social care overhaul would be shared between the three public bodies.

It aims to resolve concern around the transfer of staff from local authorities to new care boards as part of the proposals.

However, in an evidence session to the Scottish Parliament’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, Dr Jim Elder-Woodward, convener of Inclusion Scotland and who also has cerebral palsy, said third sector organisations and those with lived experiences were not consulted in the agreement despite a commitment of co-designing the service.

“Though we were excited and very keen to be part of the co-design, this announcement has made us feel that we have been used,” he said.

“This decision was taken behind our backs and we (feel) we are not truly part of the system which takes our experiences and knowledge into consideration.

“We have been used by this co-production and we are really disappointed.”

He told committee MSPs that social care users were intended to be the “essential pillars” for the national care service’s formation but the agreement failed to consult other stakeholders except for the Scottish Government, Cosla and the NHS.

Rachel Cackett, chief executive of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS), also told the committee: “We were deeply disappointed that a Bill which purports to be about co-production and engagement ended up with a deal done quietly behind closed doors, which we certainly were not involved in.”

Legislation to create the national care service was delayed until after the summer, with ministers said to be using the pause to engage with stakeholders, with the legal responsibility arrangement agreed in July.

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, told the committee that ministers had to work harder to resolve the issues currently facing social care as he took aim at the Scottish Government’s latest winter preparedness plan.

The plan included an expansion to the hospital at home service to prevent bed-blocking but Dr Macaskill said the strategy lacked clarity for unpaid carers, staff and the third sector.

He said: “The lack of political engagement by Scottish Government and Cosla I have never seen the like of before is placing social care providers in real peril, but much more importantly is placing citizens around the country in very real risk of having packages of care withdrawn.”

Last week, the committee heard from Eddie Follan, chief officer for health and social care at Cosla, who said the agreement had led to discussions around the Bill being in a “much better place”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is crucial that we build a National Care Service that best meets the needs of the people it will serve.

“As we do so, we are committed to working with people with lived experience of using, or working in, social care and community healthcare, as well as councils, trade unions and other partners.

“We engaged with these key stakeholders extensively over the summer period.

“We will co-design the detail of how the NCS is delivered within the framework set out in the Bill, as well as reaching a consensus with our stakeholders on shared accountability.

“The planning for this winter started earlier than ever before.

“It is the culmination of the huge amount of planning and preparatory work which has been under way across the whole system for several months.

“We have worked tirelessly with Cosla and our valued partners in the social care and social work sectors over the past months to ensure actions which will help address short-term issues are included within our winter planning.

“In 2023-24 funding of more than £19 billion is provided for health and social care, to support recovery and secure sustainable frontline services including more than £1.7 billion investment in social care and integration.

“Funding for social care has increased by over £800 million compared to 2021-22 – well ahead of the trajectory to meet our commitment to increase funding for social care by 25% over the life of the Parliament.”

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