By Lucy Ashton
The Scottish Conservatives have said a “devastating” cross-party report must signal the end of Nicola Sturgeon’s ill-conceived plans for a National Care Service.
Holyrood’s Finance Committee – which has a Nationalist majority and SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson as its convener – published its unanimous finding today, voicing concerns over a lack of transparency on costs.
The committee is the latest to speak out against the NCS plans, which it’s estimated will cost around £1.3 billion to set up.
They join social-care stakeholders, including trades unions and charities, while Audit Scotland have also raised concerns over costs.
Shadow social care minister Craig Hoy says the time has come for Ms Sturgeon to pull the plug on her “hugely costly distraction”, which “virtually no one supports”. He insists every available penny should instead be redirected to local social-care providers.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Tory leader Craig Hoy.
Scottish Conservative shadow social care minister Craig Hoy MSP said:“This devastating report should be the signal for Nicola Sturgeon to pull the plug on her ill-conceived plans for a National Care Service.
“Virtually no one supports these uncosted plans to centralise social-care provision in the hands of ministers rather than local providers – and now worried stakeholders have been joined by SNP and Green members of the Finance Committee.
“I hope their scathing report is the moment when the penny finally drops and Nicola Sturgeon accepts that her plans don’t stack up – and ditches them.
“The shortage of social-care packages in Scotland is a national crisis – because it impacts not just those who desperately need care but also all NHS patients, due to the knock-on effects of delayed discharge or ‘bed-blocking’.
“But these reckless and potentially dangerous plans are not the answer. They are a hugely costly distraction from tackling the crisis in frontline care.
“As well as creating unnecessary bureaucracy and taking accountability away from those who know the needs of their communities best, the NCS is completely unaffordable at a time when the SNP is imposing savage budget cuts across departments.”
The SNP’s plans for the NCS will cost up to £1.3billion, with up to £496million set to be spent just on creating a national body. The upper cost estimates for the NCS are £1.26b. It is estimated that the establishment of a national body will cost up to £496m, with the establishment of care boards costing up to £726m. (National Care Service Bill – Financial Memorandum, 20 June 2022, link).