Friday 19 April 2024

National Care Service bill – still not fit for purpose

Kate Ramsden
#STUC24 In the first debate of Congress, delegates backed a call for the National Care Service bill to be scrapped and for a public, not for profit service to be designed in conjunction with all interested parties.

The composite motion was moved by UNISON’s Audrey McCabe, herself a care worker. She made a powerful call for sectoral bargaining and decent pay and status for social care workers recognising the essential work they do.

Kate Ramsden supported, on behalf of Aberdeen Trades Union Council, pointing out that the Scottish Government has approved its so called National Care Service bill at Stage 1, because the Minister says she will no longer implement it as it stands. However she has not shown what the bill will actually look like.

“So the reality is that the bill remains as it always did, with all the aspects we campaigned against still there,” warned Kate.

The Minister has promised that the Bill will look nothing like the one approved by the government, but demands by the Health, social care and sports committee that she publish her amendments by end March have been… well, ignored.”

Instead she has set up a hastily convened Expert Legal Advisory Group to consider amendments. “It has 61 members, said Kate. “If a camel is a horse designed by a committee we can expect to get something like a Komodo dragon,” said Kate to some laughter.

She warned that initial proposals presented to this group are extremely worrying

“They propose a National Care Board appointed rather than elected and accountable only to Scottish ministers - that will suck powers up to the centre.

“Its plan is to end the “postcode lottery” of social care but it proposes no additional funding and doesn’t once mention fair work in care.

“From what I can see, it’s another layer of bureaucracy to keep control of IJBs in their unenviable task of providing care to our most vulnerable with no additional resources, no plans to value staff better by applying the fair work principles and no plans to take profit out of care.

She called for the bill to be scrapped but added that if it progresses, the STUC and affiliates must monitor the progress of the bill closely to make sure that it’s fit for purpose.