A National Care Service in Scotland: Scottish Government Consultation 

On the 9th of August, the Scottish Government published its consultation, setting out proposals for a future National Care Service. You can read the full consultation, here. 

The consultation, which closes on November 2nd, seeks views on a single national body to oversee social care, with clear lines of accountability to Ministers at a national level. It assumes the incorporation of adults’ services including social work. The aim of proposals is to "develop and design care and support that meets the needs of everyone and to move away from a notion of eligibility that requires a point of crisis before support is available". The consultation asks for views on having a single support plan and a single point of access for complaints. It aspires to a single digital health and social care record to reduce people’s experiences of repeated requests for the same information and to share information more effectively for better quality service provision. There are chapters on commissioning, governance structures for new Community Health and Social Care Boards, rights for carers, regulation, and fair work.

What might this mean for social work?

Children’s social work

The consultation asks whether children’s social work and social care services should be located within the NCS.


The consultation asks whether justice should be included in the NCS but also asks for opinions on other models including a separate service akin to the Probation Service in England. It also suggests the NCS should oversee social care provision for people in prison

Mental health

The consultation proposes that “appropriate” elements of mental health services should be “consistently delegated” to the National Care Service.


The consultation proposes the NCS may be able to commission specialist addictions care, such as residential rehab, at a national level

National Social Work Agency

The National Social Work Agency would "have national oversight and leadership oversocial work qualifications, workforce planning, improvement, training, continuousprofessional development and pay and grading within a national framework". 

The Scottish Social Services Council

To be enabled to compel employers to adhere to the codes of practice and to implement sanctions arising from fitness topractice hearings.It is not yet clear whether social workers might remain in local authorities or in future be employed by the Community Health and Social Care Boards or the National Care Service directly. SASW understands that this will form part of future consultation activity as part of the NCS Programme.

Within our analysis of the consultation and subsequent response, we intend to pay attention to the way that the social work role is described. SASW is alert to risks of erosion of holistic and relational principles and approaches that underpin our work leaving social workers operating constantly in a high risk, complex environment where the likelihood of the need of undesired intervention impacts individual and social trust in the profession.


What happens next 

Without a doubt, the creation of a National Care Service will change the way that we practice social work in Scotland. Over the last two months, we have held a number of engagement events for social workers as well as a survey to ensure the voices of the social work workforce have informed our response. We will share this in due course. 

This consultation is a first step to the creation of a National Care Service.  A Government Programme will follow to address necessary changes to legislation, governance, structures and practice. At the start of September, we welcomed Anne-Marie Monaghan to the team who is leading on our Adult Services work, including the National Care Service consultation and programme. You can reach Anne-Marie by email on anne-marie.monaghan@basw.co.uk. 

Whilst SASW will respond to the consultation as your professional association, its important that you respond to the consultation in your own right. This could be focused on the areas that have most relevance to the social work profession and the people we support. Use this double opportunity to amplify your voice. You can email us on scotland@basw.co.uk with thoughts and questions. We will do our best to answer. 


Useful Resources & Documents 

You can read COSLA's position on the launch of the consultation, here. They claim it 'cuts through the heart of governance and localism in Scotland'. 

CCPS' initial response to the consultation can be read here. They broadly welcome the proposals. 

UNISON produced this briefing paper on the consultation which outlines their position, linking to their 'Care after covid' vision for social care. 

The Alliance have yet to publish a formal position statement, but you can find out more about their work, here. 

Inclusion Scotland and Scottish Care have been vocal about their support of a National Care Service. Read their open letter on the recommendations of the Feeley review, here.