National Care Service: Edinburgh concern over inadequate funding

Plans for a new National Care Service fail to recognise that current funding is inadequate, Edinburgh's health and social care body has told ministers.

The Scottish Government has described its proposals for the service the most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS. Councils would no longer run social care services and "care boards" would be set up with a similar function to existing health boards.

In its response to the government's consultation on the proposed legislation, the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (IJB), which oversees health and social care in the Capital, stressed the need for each authority to start from "a fair and equitable financial base" when the NCS is launched.

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It said: "Members are concerned that there is a lack of clarity and detail on how the proposals within the Bill will be funded. There is no acknowledgement that the current level of funding is not sufficient to deliver social care services and local authorities (and other bodies) are having to make difficult choices. The EIJB is currently running with a structural budget deficit since its inception. This has been exacerbated since additional income and funds have not been in line with the ongoing increase in costs and with year-on-year demographic growth, as well as committed spending commitments. The Bill does not provide any detail on how these will be addressed or factored in."

The EIJB response also argues that much of what the Bill is trying to achieve could be done through existing structures. "The Care Boards sound very similar to existing IJBs and it’s not entirely clear what the purpose of setting up these new bodies would be. There is a view that the focus on restructuring of governance may become the priority rather than actual service delivery. There is a significant lack of detail on what Care Boards will do, what services will sit under Care Boards, what staff will sit under care boards / NCS to take an informed view."

The response also calls for more clarity on the make-up of Care Boards and how they will link with NHS Boards and urges further consultation on the Bill as further details emerge.

Under the Scottish Government proposals, councils would no longer run social care services.