Cabinet (Meetings)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

3. To ask the First Minister when the Cabinet will next meet. (S6F-01248)

Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

I am very grateful for that reply.

The crisis in our national health service is directly linked to what is going on right now in social care. Top doctors are saying that delayed discharges are the worst that they have ever seen. There are currently 1,800 patients who are well enough to leave hospital but who cannot, in large part because there is no care package to help them home. That is the equivalent of all the patients in Caithness general hospital, Borders general hospital, the sick kids hospital, Dumfries and Galloway royal infirmary and Edinburgh royal infirmary put together.

The Government’s solution to that is a ministerial takeover of social care, which my party has opposed from the start. Let us remember that it was Scottish National Party ministers who discharged Covid-positive patients into our care homes. We cannot afford to wait four years for the wrong solution. The crisis is at our gates right now. Why will the First Minister not meet that crisis now with proper pay, fair conditions and local reform?

The First Minister:

I think that it is right to move towards a national care service. Of course, the Parliament will scrutinise and debate the legislation that has been put forward, which is about improving the quality and consistency of services and—yes—improving the terms and conditions of those who work in our social care sector.

However, we are not waiting to establish a national care service in order to make those improvements now. We are already increasing the wages of people who work in the adult social care sector. In April this year, the minimum hourly rate increased. That represents a 12.9 per cent increase for those workers in just over a year and, for a full-time adult social care worker, an uplift of more than £1,600 over the course of the financial year. Those are minimum rates of pay, of course; many employers will pay more than those minimums. We are taking action on that now.

In the overall funding of social care, we are taking action. We are in the process of increasing funding for social care by 25 per cent—or in the region of £800 million—over this session of Parliament.

Parliament will scrutinise the legislation for the national care service. Let me read out the views of some people this week on the publication of that legislation. Carers Scotland’s director said:

“We welcome the publication of this new bill ... not least that it sets out in legislation” rights

“for carers”.

Tommy Whitelaw, who is the national lead on caring for the Alliance Scotland, said that he is

“Really looking forward to the co-design of the national care service”.

The coalition of carers in Scotland said that the introduction of the

“right to short breaks ... is very welcome”,

and carer voices had similar comments.

There is a broad base of support for the bill, but it is important that we get the detail right. That is what the parliamentary process is for and what the co-design process is intended to deliver.

The Presiding Officer:

We move to constituency and general supplementaries.