Response to Nicola Sturgeon’s Programme for Government

7 September 2021

The pandemic has shown that the essential workers of society aren’t the Richard Bransons and Elon Musks of the world, but they are our shop workers, nurses and care staff. The ongoing crisis has also exposed Scotland’s crumbling social care system, with almost half of the deaths from the virus occurring in a care home setting. Disastrous policies such as releasing patients from hospitals into residential care without testing and the lack of adequate PPE or sick pay for care workers allowed the virus to rip through homes with devastating consequences for both residents and staff. Yet, issues within Scotland’s social care began long before COVID- privatisation has seen a reduction in the quality of care and working conditions across the industry.

The SNP’s announcement into a National Care Service is, on one hand, is welcomed. Pledges to increase funding by at least £800 million are obviously looked upon favourably in a desperately underfunded sector, combined with promises to put human rights at the centre and to remove charges for non-residential care.

While the SNP’s proposals seem like a move in the right direction they do not tackle the core of the issue. The Feeley review which has influenced the Scottish Government’s plans does not recommend public ownership. The SNP themselves have yet to intervene on the closure of 5 council-run care homes in Edinburgh- where many of the residents have complex needs and would struggle with the proposed move, alongside leaving hundreds of workers without a job. This all points to a National Care Service which will be privately operated resulting in profiteering at the expense of the public purse, decent wages and quality care. Instead of a National Care Service, we are calling for a Nationalised Care Service, one which is democratically ran, where service users and care workers are at the heart of the organisation. One in which workers can get a decent pay of £15 per hour and quality working conditions. We need a social care system that genuinely puts people before profit and currently, the SNP’s National Care Service does not look like the answer.