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Bill for National Care Service ‘biggest power grab since devolution’, says union

Plans for a National Care Service for Scotland have been described as the ‘biggest power grab’ since devolution. (Steve Parsons/PA)
Plans for a National Care Service for Scotland have been described as the ‘biggest power grab’ since devolution. (Steve Parsons/PA)

Scottish Government plans for a new National Care Service are the “biggest power grab” in the history of devolution and are a “recipe for disaster”, union leaders have insisted.

Bosses at the trade union Unite hit out after the legislation to establish a nationwide care service was published by Holyrood ministers.

The National Care Service Bill will make the Scottish Government accountable for adult social care in Scotland – with Health Secretary Humza Yousaf insisting it will “end the postcode lottery of care in Scotland”.

Mr Yousaf said the legislation, if passed, would bring about the “most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS”.

But Wendy Dunsmore of Unite spoke out against the plans, saying: “The proposals represent the biggest power grab by the Scottish Government in the era of devolution.

“The plans to transfer services, people and property from local authorities to the Scottish Government are a recipe for disaster and represent an all-out assault on local democracy.”

Ms Dunsmore said Scottish ministers would be “able to unilaterally decide what services are to be delivered nationally or locally”.

She also claimed that there was “next to no detail on major elements of these proposals”, adding: “Unite has for some time been severely worried about the emerging framework surrounding the National Care Service and we have had every right to be.

“The Scottish Government could not have drafted a more incomprehensible, incoherent and dreadful Bill.”

Labour’s Jackie Baillie said the proposals threatened the very existence of local government in Scotland (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Her concerns were echoed by Scottish Labour health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, who claimed the Bill was “nothing less than the biggest power grab in the history of Holyrood”.

Ms Baillie insisted the legislation as set out “threatens the very existence of local government” as she accused the Scottish Government of using the establishment of a National Care Service to “disempower local government and centralise yet more power”.

Ms Baillie insisted: “The people of Scotland, especially those who work or live in care, deserve so much better than this.”

The criticism came as the Government published the legislation, which it said laid the foundation for the National Care Service.

The service will be set up with the aim of supporting people in their own homes where possible, with seamless transition between services.

Humza Yousaf visit to Falkirk Community Hospital
Humza Yousaf said the NCS will be the most ambitious reform since the NHS was established (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A charter of rights and responsibilities would also be developed for social care with a robust complaints process in place.

Meanwhile, unpaid carers would be given the right to breaks under the plans, with visiting rights for residents living in adult care homes also to be introduced, giving legal force to Anne’s Law, which seeks to reduce the trauma caused to families unable to see their loved ones during lockdowns.

Speaking as he visited the Aberdeen-based charity VSA, which supports people with a wide range of social care needs, Mr Yousaf said: “This is the most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS.

“People have told us they want a National Care Service, accountable to Scottish Ministers, with services designed and delivered locally. That’s exactly what we’re going to deliver.”

He insisted the new service would “have human rights embedded throughout” with Mr Yousaf adding those with “direct experience of accessing and providing social care” would be involved in design plans.

“We are going to end the postcode lottery of care in Scotland,” he said.

“Through the National Care Service we’re going to ensure everyone has access to consistently high-quality care and support so they can live a full life.

“This is our ambitious goal and, while it will not be easy to achieve, it is vital that we do.”

Social care minister Kevin Stewart said the National Care Service will be established by the end of this parliamentary term, once the Bill has been passed Holyrood.

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