The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the establishment of a National Care Service for Scotland ("the consultation"). The consultation follows upon the recommendations contained within the Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland ("the independent review"), published in February 2021.

What is proposed?

The proposals contained with the consultation would, if implemented, represent significant developments in the provision of social care in Scotland.

  • A single National Care Service, accountable to the Scottish Government would be established. It would be tasked with defining "strategic direction, quality standards and the framework" in order to ensure the delivery of "consistent, high standards of care for everyone in Scotland."
  • Integrated joint boards would be reformed into Community Health and Social Care Boards ("CHSCBs") in order to become the local delivery body of the National Care Service, working alongside the NHS, local authorities and the third and independent sectors.
  • Care services would be commissioned and procured by the National Care Service, working alongside CHSCBs, from local authorities and third and independent sector providers.
  • The National Care Service would itself lead on delivery of community health and social care provision to those with very complex or highly specialist needs and the delivery of care in custodial settings.

Scope of National Care Service

The scope of a future National Care Service is already proving to be an issue of contention.

The consultation suggests that children's social work and social care would sit alongside adult social work and social care within the National Care Service "to ensure a more cohesive integration of health, social work and social care."

The consultation also invites views on the integration of alcohol and drug services into the National Care Service, and seeks feedback on the current work of Alcohol and Drug Partnerships.

According to the consultation, community justice services, at least at the outset, would not form part of the National Care Service, although views are sought on whether community justice services should ultimately be brought within it.

The consultation further proposes that a national social work agency would be established, to sit within the National Care Service. It would be tasked with a variety of national oversight and leadership functions in connection with social workers.

What is not proposed?

The consultation does not propose a nationalisation of care services.

The consultation states that there is "no evidence that providing services through the public sector increases quality, in fact in community based services, quality is generally highest among third sector providers."

What has the reaction of local government been?

COSLA has said that the proposals in the consultation cut "through the heart of governance in Scotland". It has also queried why the consultation proposals go further than those recommended in the independent review.

What next?

The Scottish Government has extended the deadline for consultation responses until 2 November 2021.

Those with an interest in the sector, be they care providers, care recipients or local authorities will be able to express their views until that date.

Brodies is well placed to advise on social care provision. For more information, please contact Jackie McGuire or your usual brodies contact.


Tony Convery