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Council / Worries that national care service plans would ‘diminish’ empowerment sought for isles

SENIOR councillors are seeking confirmation that a full islands impact assessment will be carried out before any legislation is drafted around a proposed new national care service in Scotland.

Leader Steven Coutts and his depute Emma Macdonald said they are concerned that the national care service proposal will “diminish, rather than enhance, the community, fiscal and functional empowerment we seek in Shetland”.

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Included in the SNP’s manifesto for the May Scottish Parliament election was a commitment to introduce a national care service.

SIC political leader Steven Coutts.
SIC leader Steven Coutts. Photo: Shetland News

The party said the service would oversee the delivery of care, improve standards, training and staff pay and conditions while giving support for unpaid carers.

The manifesto, said, however, that “it does not mean all care homes will be owned or run by the Scottish Government”.

The SNP said it would begin for the formal legislative process of establishing the new service within the first year of parliament.

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The proposals have been met with a note of caution by Coutts and Macdonald, who have written a motion due to be heard by a meeting of the full Shetland Islands Council (SIC) on Wednesday.

They noted the “significant investment the Shetland Islands Council and our partners have made in provision of care services in our community over decades, and the dedicated and committed staff delivering these crucial front line services”.

“To improve outcomes, reform is often necessary,” the councillors added in their motion.

“However, a move towards a National Care Service should not be merely accepted as the only means of reform without proper consideration of its scope, resourcing and implications for local decision making.

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Councillor Emma Macdonald.

“Shetland’s model of care and strong partnership working has been developed and modified as local needs have changed, and is significantly different to many areas of Scotland.

“The council has previously voted to explore options for a greater degree of self-determination and are concerned that National Care Service proposal will diminish, rather than enhance, the community, fiscal and functional empowerment we seek in Shetland.

“As a matter of priority, and in keeping with the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018, the Council writes to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care seeking confirmation that a full Island Communities Impact Assessment will be undertaken before any legislation is drafted.”

If the motion is approved by the full council, the SIC would then write to health secretary Humza Yousaf on the matter.

It comes after councillors voted last year to explore options for achieving financial and political self-determination.

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