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Why we do not support the National Care Service Bill

Colin Poolman 17 Jan 2024

Despite agreeing with the aims behind the Bill, Colin Poolman outlines why we cannot support it.

As the deadline for stage 1 scrutiny of the National Care Service (NCS) Bill approaches, we have this week written to Holyrood’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee to inform it that RCN Scotland does not support the current Bill and believes it should not proceed beyond stage 1. 

While RCN Scotland shares the Scottish government’s desire to improve the quality and consistency of social care and community health services, and therefore agrees with the overall aim of the legislation, it is entirely unclear how the Bill will achieve this objective or address the serious challenges within a sector that is in crisis. 

Earlier this year, RCN Scotland and other stakeholders successfully called for the Bill to be paused and, over the summer, the Scottish government has conducted further engagement exercises. However, we have concerns around the Scottish government's approach to co-design and the extent to which this is informing the Bill in a meaningful way.  

We are also concerned that Scottish government have not yet produced a detailed plan setting out how the NCS will function. We are now even less clear about the scope of the NCS and what types of services will be covered. Key provisions within the Bill are no longer relevant and key parts of the current plans are not covered by the Bill.  

We absolutely agree that reform is needed; the sector is in crisis and urgent action is needed to tackle serious issues around workforce shortages and access to services in a sustainable way. However, we previously raised concerns that the Bill is being taken forward without a clear understanding of how to fix the current problems facing the sector or enough planning to ensure the effective functioning of an NCS. In our view this remains a real risk and we are extremely concerned that pushing ahead as it stands will do nothing to address the current crisis. Given the importance of getting these reforms right, RCN Scotland cannot support the current legislative approach.  
Colin Poolman

Colin Poolman

RCN Scotland Director

Page last updated - 17/01/2024