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Supporting our members who work in care homes

A National Care Service

for Scotland

National Care Service proposals

In response to concerns raised by a range of organisations, including RCN Scotland, the Scottish Government paused proposals for a National Care Service. A first Parliamentary vote on the Bill is now not expected until March 2024. Over the summer of 2023, the Scottish Government held a series of stakeholder engagement events, including some which focus on workforce, in order to inform their next steps.

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, we have serious concerns about the continued lack of clarity regarding the plans and how the Bill will adress the current crisis facing social care and community health. We have therefore 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.

Why is it important to RCN members?

As the intention is to move some community health services into the National Care Service, nursing staff currently working for the NHS will continue to be employed by the NHS, but may deliver services for which the National Care Services is responsible. This creation of the National Care Service will therefore affect nursing staff working in both health and social care. The Bill will not nationalise services, so members working for public, private and third sector providers will continue to have the same employer.

What does RCN Scotland think of the Bill?

The Bill is a framework bill that lays the foundations for a National Care Service, which means that much of the detail about how it would operate in practice is not set out in the Bill. RCN Scotland has serious concerns around the number of unanswered questions, around things like governance, the link between the NHS and an NCS and how terms and conditions will be improved and repeatedly called for the Bill to be paused. 

Instead, RCN Scotland believes the focus must be on retaining the workforce and adequately funding nursing in social care and community health. You can watch RCN Scotland Director Colin Poolman speaking to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee.

You can also read what we have said to MSPs about the Bill in a blog from Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland Director, which explains why we have now come to the conclusion that we cannot support the Bill. 

Get involved

Although we have said that now is not the right time to proceed with creating a National Care Service, RCN Scotland will continue to influence the legislation and the government’s plans for shaping a National Care Service.

To keep up to date with our work in this area and make your voice heard, email:

How we got here

The need for significant reform to the way in which adult social care is provided has been a topic of discussion for a number of years. The COVID-19 pandemic brought these issues into sharp focus. In May 2019, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care announced an independent review to look at the long-term future of adult social care in Scotland, including consideration of the creation of a national care service – the Feeley review.


RCN Scotland provided written evidence to the Feeley review and, following this, hosted a series of consultation events last year to inform our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the creation of a national care service. Members came together from across the RCN Scotland membership - including members working in acute services, social care, community services, scrutiny, and education.  

Page last updated - 26/01/2024