The Scottish Socialist Party is reiterating its call for a publicly-owned, publicly-funded National Care Service in Scotland, which is free at the point of use, ahead of the Review into Adult Social Care.
With the Independent Review into Adult Social Care due to be published in January 2021, the SSP has submitted a contribution to the Review which calls for public ownership, universal provision on the basis of need, and significantly improved conditions for care workers.
Derek Feeley, former Chief Executive of NHS Scotland and Chair of the Independent Review into Adult Social Care, contributed a pre-recorded video to the SSP’s 8 December online discussion on the need for a National Care Service.
Feeley was joined by the SSP’s Colin Fox; by Prof. Luke Clements, who helped draft both the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004; and by Prof. Allyson Pollock, of the UK Government’s SAGE advisory committee.
In 2017, the SSP National Conference called for “a fully funded public service that guarantees dignity in retirement for everyone… that is provided by fully trained, fairly rewarded and highly valued staff.”
The COVID-19 crisis has shone a light on the urgent need for a National Care Service, and for an overhaul in the way elderly care is funded, operated, and distributed in Scotland. Almost half of all Coronavirus deaths in Scotland have occurred in primarily-private care homes.
Vulnerable residents are locked into contracts where they have to pay £60,000 per year for substandard care. Care workers face chronic issues of understaffing, overwork, and insecure poverty pay employment that undermines care quality. Carers have been let down on PPE, health guidance, testing, sick pay, and safety. Private care firms moved £1.6bn per year from the UK to offshore tax havens.
SSP National Co-spokesperson Colin Fox has said:
“There could be no more fitting legacy from this traumatic year-long experience than establishing a National Care Service, one that’s free at the point of need, publicly owned and run and fit for the 21st century.”
The SSP has commissioned an opinion poll with Panelbase to be carried out in January, which is expected to confirm high levels of support for a publicly-owned National Care Service during the publication of the Review into Adult Social Care.
3,500 petition signatures calling for a National Care Service have been submitted by the SSP to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
In a letter to the First Minister, Colin Fox writes:
“The latest figures show that almost half all our COVID deaths
occurred there. You will also be aware of the evidence that showed many of our elderly care homes were not fit for purpose well before the COVID outbreak struck in March.
“The appalling number of deaths this year has undoubtedly increased the determination of the public to see far reaching changes in the way your government provisions this service.
“The Scottish Socialist Party has long argued that the present, largely privately provided services, are not fit for purpose and should be replaced with a national service that is free at the point of need and therefore universally available.
“We have never known such intense support for this proposal before and feel sure this reflects the overwhelming support and sense of urgency the issue now has among the Scottish public.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said:
“I note the extensive support you have received for your petition for a National Care Service. The First Minister has already indicated to the Scottish Parliament that she has huge sympathy with a national approach to social care.
“Whilst there would be real challenges associated with the idea, the pandemic has reiterated the need for a radical rethink of our model of social care and it is an example of how we need to be prepared to contemplate new and potentially better ways of providing social care.”
With the Review into Adult Social Care due to be published in January, the SSP is calling on the Scottish Government to make good on the First Minister’s “sympathy” for a publicly-owned National Care Service.