National Care Service

I was very pleased when Labour leader Iain Gray MSP announced that Labour will implement a National Care Service to work along with the NHS if Labour is elected at next year's Scottish election. Today Labour announced the setting up of an expert group to look into how we can deliver on this policy. I welcome this, this is a very important area of policy. We should work hard to develop a system which delivers high quality care services consistently across the country. Labour 's announcement from today is below:


Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray has announced the next step in the most ambitious reform of elderly care in Scotland since the creation of the NHS. Labour intends to create a National Care Service within the lifetime of the next Parliament.

At a press conference in Glasgow, Mr Gray announced the membership and remit of the Expert Group on Future Options for Social Care, which will be chaired by Sir John Arbuthnott, to advise on the creation of the new service.

The Expert Panel will undertake a series of ‘listening exercises’ across Scotland and produce a report by April next year setting out the principles that will underpin a National Care Service and how it will improve the experience of people requiring care, their carers and their families.

Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray said:

“Almost every family in Scotland will know what it is like to care for an elderly relative. It can mean a daily battle with the NHS or social work for services that vary enormously across the country. Scottish Labour introduced Free Personal Care for the elderly and we are proud of that. But the time has come to improve the delivery and consistency of care.

“I want Scotland to have a National Care Service on which our people can depend within the lifetime of the next Parliament. This is about the local delivery of national standards of care and an end to the postcode lottery. Just as our predecessors rose to the challenge of the last century and created the NHS, we must rise to the challenge of the twenty-first century and ensure our elderly and disabled citizens receive the social care they need.

“The involvement of people of the calibre of Sir John Arbuthnott, and the other members of the panel, shows how seriously we are taking this challenge to improve the experience of people requiring care, their carers and their families.”

Sir John Arbuthnott said:

“This is one of the greatest challenges facing society in coming years. The rapid increase in the older population is fully recognised. The help and support that assures the wellbeing of older people and allows them to participate as fully as possible in their communities is a priority. They have much to offer in wisdom and experience.

“Colleagues on the expert group have longstanding experience in providing care and treatment for this age group. But we will also welcome the the views of the voluntary sector, including churches, faith groups as well as of families who provide much of the front line love and care. The views of older people are also central.

“It is time to revisit the way in which the balance of treatment, care and wellbeing is provided to best effect.”





At the Labour Party Scottish Conference held in Oban in October 2010, Iain Gray announced our intention to establish a National Care Service. To assist in that task we agreed to set up an expert panel, led by Sir John Arbuthnott.

Title and Remit

The expert panel should be called The Expert Group on Future Options for Social Care.

The remit is as undernoted:

To make recommendations on the establishment of a National Care Service for Scotland; recognising the need to shift the balance of care to community settings; acknowledging the important role of carers and all care providers; ensuring an equally high and fair standard of care across the country, and improving the experience for people requiring care, their families and their carers.

The Expert Group will be expected to specifically consider:

- the funding available for a merged social care budget from both local authorities and health

- future needs and demographic trends

- governance arrangements for a national care service based on reform of CHCPs

- the role of all care providers

- the scope for including services for those with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health issues alongside older people’s services

- managing the transition from the existing pattern of service to the new national care service.


The Expert Group will be chaired by Sir John Arbuthnott.

He will be joined by David Manion, Chief Executive of Age Scotland and Councillor Harry McGuigan as announced at Conference.

In addition, the following have agreed to be members:

Dr Alistair Noble – GP

Professor Brian Williams – Royal College of Physicians, former Consultant Geriatrician

Professor June Andrews – Dementia Development Centre, Stirling University

Peter Scott – Chief Executive, Enable Scotland

Hugh Clarke – Retired Head of Fieldwork Services, Glasgow City Council Social Work Services.

All Group members are serving in an independent expert capacity.


It is proposed that the initial output of the Group will be a short paper setting out the principles that would underpin a National Care Service. This would be available at the end of March/beginning of April.

In the period leading up to this, there would be 4 ‘listening sessions’ – one in January, two in February and one in March. At least one will be held outside the central belt, probably in Inverness.