Supporting our members who work in care homes

Independent review of adult social care

in Scotland

The review

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 in to sharp focus. In May 2019, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care announced an independent review would be set up to look at the long term future of adult social care in Scotland, including consideration of the creation of a national care service. 

The RCN response

RCN Scotland engaged with this review in 2020 by meeting the review group in November, and in December provided written evidence to the review.

Our submission focused on the following issues:

  • Commissioning needs to move away from a system focused on cost, to a system focused on outcomes
  • As the acuity of social care recipients is on the rise, registered nurses are increasingly vital to services
  • Whatever funding model and model of delivery of care is established needs to ensure staffing is safe, effective and able to provide high quality care
  • Nursing staff should receive the same pay, terms and conditions as their NHS counterparts.

The outcome of the review

The Independent Review into Adult Social Care was published on 3 February 2021.

The review makes 53 recommendations, including the creation of a National Care Service accountable to Scottish Ministers and significant reform to the process of commissioning of social care.

It emphasises the importance of prevention and the need to deliver on the commitment to assist people to stay in their own communities as long as possible.

On the social care workforce, the review proposes a nationally negotiated, minimum set of terms and conditions which will be a requirement for commissioning, as well as a national forum comprised of workforce representation and employers to advise on workforce priorities and terms and conditions.

The review raises a number of questions which will need further discussion and work. What is clear is that if implemented, these recommendations would represent the most significant reform of adult social care to date.

We have produced an initial briefing on the review for members.

Next steps

The Scottish Parliament is due to debate this review later on in February 2021 and after this it will become clearer to what extent, and under what timetable these recommendations may be taken forward. Reform to adult social care will be a long-term project, but this review is a significant contribution.

RCN Scotland will be engaging with this process and with the Scottish Government to ensure that the voice of nursing is heard in the reform process.

Get involved

We are keen that members of the RCN who work in adult social care are given the opportunity to give us their views. When the reform process becomes clearer this may include setting up an expert group or roundtable discussions or some other form of member engagement.

If you would be interested in being kept up to date about adult social care reform, including opportunities to help shape RCN Scotland work in this area, please get in touch with Ross Sanderson, Policy Adviser via email at

Page last updated - 15/02/2021