Social Care

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 14th November 2018.

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Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

I will do my best to rattle through my speech.

We are, undoubtedly, faced with challenges as we seek to deliver integrated health and social care properly. However, Alex Neil was absolutely right to say that we should not set aside recognition of the significant achievements that have been made in many local authority areas by social care workers. We must give them credit for what they have done.

It is right for members to have pointed to delayed discharge: there are undoubtedly challenges there. However, as Alexander Stewart said, we have integration authorities in which there is no delayed discharge and things are working. The one in his local council area is not the only one in which that is the case. The issue is not only about resources; it is also about how we work, which is why I spoke earlier about the whole-system thinking that is needed.

Willie Rennie pointed to issues in governance and leadership, and was not alone in that. Without specific reference to the situation in Fife, which would not be appropriate, it is right that the joint review that I mentioned, which is led by COSLA and the Scottish Government, is actively looking at issues of governance, finance and decision making.

The approach is three years old—a lot has been achieved in those three years, but the approach is still new. I completely appreciate that someone who is waiting for better services does not care how new or old the approach is, and simply wants the improvements now. However, I think that that perspective is a reasonable one for us to have. Furthermore, it is right that the review is a partnership.

Alex Rowley made an interesting proposition about directly funding integration joint boards. I presume that that funding would come from the health service and local authorities. I am happy to discuss that with COSLA and to consider changes to ensure that our Government procurement framework is applied or is, at least, matched in local authorities, and I would certainly welcome the support of Mr Rowley and his colleagues in doing that, because I do not think that local authorities would take kindly to the idea of responsibility for people whom they currently employ being lifted from them and moved elsewhere.

Jackie Baillie offered to help to ensure that the money that the Government has provided to fund fully the real living wage gets to the staff who deserve it. I welcome that. Therefore, I invite her to be Santa by working with me to ensure that all councils do precisely that, not only for the people whom they employ, but for people whom they contract, including from the third sector. Together, let us learn the lessons from local authorities that directly employ social care staff, and in which terms and conditions, career opportunities and the real living wage are such that the authorities not only attract staff, but retain them.