By Bill Heaney
The Government’s social care workforce strategy is to be delayed until the spring, LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton told the Scottish Parliament today.
He added: “That news came on the same day that social work directors admitted that lives could be lost because of the growing shortage of home carers. In their words,
“care is being rationed like never before”.
“Alarm bells are ringing across the country. That means vulnerable people not getting washed for days on end, with meals, medicines and safety visits missed.
“One woman has been stuck in her bed for 19 hours a day for weeks, while a man was left soiled for hours because there was not a second carer on hand to help change him.
“The Government has been warned about staff shortages before. I have raised the issue, as have others. The First Minister has to acknowledge that this is the deepest crisis that we have ever seen in social care. I ask her: what is the plan?”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs: “Alex Cole-Hamilton would know the answer to that question if he had listened to some of what the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care [Humza Yousaf] said.
” We have decided—I think rightly—to take a bit longer over a longer-term strategy for workforce planning so as to take proper account of the experience of and the lessons learned through the Covid pandemic, and to take proper account of our on-going work to integrate health and social care through a national care service. That is not the same as saying that we are not taking action now.
“Perhaps the most important thing that we have done is to fund the recruitment of 1,000 more members of staff to deal, in the immediate term, with some of the issues that Alex Cole-Hamilton is addressing.
“There are short-term pressures that we are funding health boards and local authorities to deal with now, while we learn properly from the experience of Covid in relation to longer-term workforce planning.
“That is a sensible approach to take through what is an emergency crisis situation for health and social care. We need to suppress the virus to allow all those services to start to get back to normal.”