When is a National Care Service not a National Care Service? Wed 10 Feb, 7pm

The Scottish Socialist Party is hosting a live online discussion to analyse the findings of the recently-published Independent Review of Adult Social Care.

The report, produced by former NHS Scotland CEO Derek Feeley, proposes a model of a “National Care Service” which falls short of public ownership.

Campaigners and workers will discuss the implications, and short-comings, of the report LIVE at 7pm on Wednesday 10 February 2021. Viewers can join the discussion on YouTube, Twitter (@The_SSP_), and Facebook.

Scottish Socialist Party National Co-spokesperson Colin Fox will be joined by Dr Allyson Pollock, a leading expert in the impact of market mechanisms and privatisation on public services; Labour MSP Neil Findlay; and veteran care worker Trish McLaughlin.

In response to the publication of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, Colin Fox said:

“The headline recommendation from Feeley is his call for a National Care Service in Scotland. Yet nowhere in the 109-page report is there any sense the reasons behind the COVID crisis that precipitated it have been adequately addressed.

“There have been dozens of such Reviews, Commissions, Bills, White Papers and Reports published over the past 25 years that similarly ‘buried their heads in the sand’ about the profound failure of social care provision in a model that is privately provided (expensively so), poorly delivered, and fails hundreds of thousands of senior citizens every year. 

“Derek Feeley proposes the establishment of a ‘National Care Service’ that doesn’t deserve the description. Comparisons with the National Health Service for example are paltry. 

“He proposes merely to appoint a well-paid NCS Chief Executive and a handful of other well paid Chief Operating Officers. More ‘jobs for the boys’, nothing more.

“The Scottish Socialist Party is disappointed, if not surprised, by this Review. It’s failure to address the profound crisis in adult social care in Scotland will see it go the way of all those other Reports.” 

Care worker Trish McLaughlin has previously said:

“It has to change. A National Care Service would change that.

“I’ve always had a problem with big companies that count their profit in the millions, but if their staff are promoted, their wage increase is counted in pence. The duties people have, the wages don’t reflect it.

“It can’t be privatised more. It’s owned by hundreds of different companies, and it’s not working. So you go the other way, so it’s owned by everyone, and everyone contributes through their taxes, so people aren’t having to sell their houses, so people aren’t having to go through their life savings.

“It’s not about money, and it’s not about soundbites, and it’s not about politicians – it’s about dignity of life. Dignity of life for service users, and the people providing it.”

A recently-published opinion poll, conducted by Panelbase on behalf of the SSP, revealed that 69% of people support a National Care Service which is explicitly publicly-owned, publicly-run, democratically accountable, and free at the point of use.

70% of people said they were NOT surprised to hear COVID care home deaths in the privatised care system described as the “greatest failure” of the Scottish Parliament.

The public already subsidises private care firms through care fees, public grants, benefits spending, personal debt, and corporate tax loopholes. In 2019, the Centre for Health and the Public Interest revealed that at least £1.5bn “leaks” out of the care system through tax havens every year.

Despite high rates of profit for private shareholders, 43% of Scotland’s care workers receive less than £9.30 an hour – and the majority of low-paid care workers are women or migrants. One-third of care workers leave the profession every year due to low pay and poor working conditions.

The average weekly care home fees in Scotland are over £600 for residential care and more than £800 for nursing care. Care homes spend, on average, just £6 per day on food per resident.

The Feeley report says that the authors “share the unease expressed by many in Scotland committed to healthcare free at the point of need that our residential care system is largely run on a profit making basis”, but falls short of calling for a system based on need and not private profit.

Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman told private care firms on 19 January – weeks before the Feeley review was made available to the Scottish Government – that the SNP had already decided to oppose public ownership in care.