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A plan for Scotland: Where is social work?

Nicola Surgeon MSP, First Minister in the Scottish Parliament, presented the Government’s, Plan for Scotland 2016-17 at the start of the autumn session on September 6.

Clear priorities are: “Raising standards in schools and closing the attainment gap” and, “Investing in health services and reforming the NHS”. Funding is attached to schools (some of it direct) and health, in what appears to be a positive and ambitious programme, no doubt informed by the changes once Scotland has control over welfare legislation.

A “reform of primary care” is also announced, with a significant increase in the numbers of GPs and nurses working in communities – very welcome to social workers who work in daily partnership with these professionals.

From page 24 onwards we note proposals to improve the lives of children, page 26 suggests important work with partners to address issues of staffing supply and capacity, and to promote the social work profession and wider social service workforce, as well as other matters of vital interest to the profession. But there are no specific measures to allow for the increased recruitment of social workers needed to coordinate the complex planning, and crucially to be able to intervene in a preventative manner, by having the time to hold the conversations and build the relationships they are trained to do.

In terms of adult care, page 58 refers to: “empowering a truly community-based health service – working with integrated authorities, social care, community care, primary care, and general practice to deliver the reforms needed for successful community health services,” and the section continues on to mental health services. We are disappointed that social work, as a profession, is not identified as being in need of significant investment when we are aware of the challenges within MHO capacity, and recognise that the impact of many policies will require social work input to meet the human rights of people who use the services.

We welcome the positive intent of policy makers, but want to stress the importance of social workers as imperative within an integrated world. Please let us know your views on how we can best support this.

Please note, SASW does not promote any specific political party, as our membership is diverse and members will have different convictions on how we achieve our ideas for a better society. Social workers execute their jobs under the programmes of the government of the day.