Speaking ahead of the First Minister’s Programme for Government in which she is expected to announce plans for a centralised ministerial takeover for Scotland’s care services, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP announced that he will lead opposition to the proposals.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader warned against giving the same ministers whose disastrous decisions saw thousands of untested and Covid-positive patients discharged from hospitals and into care homes permanent powers over the direction of social care services.
A consultation launched on Monday 9th August and contained extensive proposals to centralise services for children and young people, community justice, social work and alcohol and drugs services, as well as adult social care. COSLA described the proposals as “an attack on localism” that could “spell the end for anything other than central control in Scotland” in response.
Scottish Liberal Democrats instead propose new national entitlements to drive up the quality of care for users and would prioritise the introduction of new national fair work standards for staff to improve pay, conditions and career progression.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“The Scottish Government’s proposals cut local accountability out of the process and give ministers the power to dictate how things must be done.
“As a liberal I want to give people more control over their care, and to make the organisations who delivery it accountable. I don’t believe that a minister in Edinburgh knows better than people who use these services day-in day-out.
“It was Scottish Government ministers whose disastrous decisions saw thousands of untested and Covid-positive patients discharged from hospitals and into care homes with tragic consequences, despite warnings from care homes themselves. Now ministers want those powers to be permanent, and they’re eyeing up control of social work and residential rehab too.
“Rather than taking local decision making out of the process and building a new organisation at the beck-and-call of ministers, we should be focusing on improving care in a way that will actually make a difference to people on the ground. That means national standards and entitlements for users, and by ensuring that the hard work of staff is recognised with a step change in pay and conditions.
“We have seen how previous SNP exercises in centralisation fair with the police and fire service. I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that local communities and service users control of care services, not arrogant SNP ministers.”