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Supporting our members who work in care homes

A National Care Service

for Scotland

National Care Service proposals

The Scottish government proposes to create a ‘National Care Service’ by reforming existing IJBs and creating greater national oversight for social care, social work and community health services. The Scottish Parliament has now considered legislation designed to create an NCS, which passed its Stage 1 debate on 29th February. In response to concerns raised by MSPs and a range of organisations, including RCN Scotland, the Scottish Government has agreed to allowing for more detailed scrutiny as the legislation goes through the Scottish Parliament.

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 address the current crisis facing social care and community health. We will therefore continue to engage with Scottish Government and MSPs to ensure the legislation is fit for purpose and addresses the priorities for nursing in social care and community health services.

Why is it important to RCN members?

How an NCS will be established remains unclear, however it is the intention that some community health services and all social care services will be brought into a National Care Service overseen by a National Care Service Board. Nursing staff currently working for the NHS and for social care providers will continue to have the same employer, however governance arrangements and arrangements for the setting of standards and strategic planning may change. There may also be an opportunity to strengthen workers’ rights and staff representation, particularly in social care. 

What does RCN Scotland think of the Bill?

RCN Scotland did not support the Bill progressing because it remained unclear how the legislation would address the current crisis facing social care and community health. Now the Bill has passed Stage 1, we will work with stakeholders to influence the legislation on behalf of our members in all settings.

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 repeatedly called for greater clarity particularly around issues to do with governance, nursing representation, workforce planning and the improvement of terms and conditions. 

RCN Scotland believes that focus is needed now 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.

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 - 15/03/2024