The First Minister of Scotland has announced plans to investigate the creation of a National Care Service, following an independent review of adult social care.
Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs during her Programme for Government speech that the service could be a “lasting and positive legacy” from the COVID-19 crisis.
She said: “The quality of adult social care is something that matters deeply to us all. This is a moment to be bold and to build a service fit for the future.
“The National Health Service was born out of the tragedy of World War Two.
“Let us resolve that we will build out of this Covid-19 crisis the lasting and positive legacy of a high-quality National Care Service.”
The independent review of the social care system will aim to ensure Scotland provides “consistently excellent support” for people who use care services, as well as their carers and their families.
It will be chaired by Derek Feeley, former director general of Health and Social Care in the Scottish Government, and will report by January 2021.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This independent review will examine how adult social care can be most effectively reformed to deliver a national approach to care and support services – and this will include consideration of a national care service.
“It will also build upon our existing commitments to improving provision – long standing issues in adult social care have been thrown into sharp relief during the pandemic, and they demand our attention.
“We owe it to those who use and work in adult social care services to acknowledge these challenges, to learn from them, and to consider carefully how we can most effective plan for the future.”
Commenting on the news, Colin Angel, policy director at the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), said: “This review is clearly intended to be wide ranging. Scottish Government have not yet published the terms of the review, so what the announcement refers to as a ‘national care service’ in Scotland is not defined.
“Although Scotland has a very strong public sector ethos, a ‘national’ care service does not necessarily mean a ‘nationalised’ care service, with services being brought under public control. The cost of bringing so much of the independent and voluntary provider market into public ownership would be immense. A national care service can equally be about ensuring an equitable, consistent care offer is available throughout Scotland.”