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Community / Minister says national care service is not about ‘coming up here and telling you how to do things’

SHETLAND’s views will be taken into account during the planning process for a new national care service in Scotland, according to social care minister Maree Todd.

Speaking during a visit to Shetland this week, the MSP suggested that how health and social care is operated in Shetland could influence how things are run in the rest of Scotland.

Social care minister Maree Todd.

“There’s every chance that we will take an awful lot of what we’ve learned in Shetland today and try to sprinkle that around the country, so everyone will be doing things the Shetland way,” she told Shetland News on Wednesday.

“There’s an awful lot that’s really good here.”

Todd was in Shetland to gather views on what Shetland would like to see in the future national care service, including in “co-design” sessions with people involved in care.

Similar events are also taking place around the country to give the government a better understanding of how social care is delivered around Scotland.

But the proposal for a national care service has sparked deep concern in Shetland.

The feeling is that a one size fits all approach will not work. In Shetland services are largely delivered by the council, whereas on the mainland some private companies are involved, and there is said to be a high standard of care.

The government says a national service would harmonise and improve standards across the country.

In July it was also confirmed that staff will continue to be employed by local authorities, and that councils will still be responsible for assets like buildings as well as the delivery of services.

SNP MSP Todd reiterated that it is not the Scottish Government’s intention for Edinburgh to tell Shetland how to do things.

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“I’ve been able to reassure people [in Shetland] that it’s not our intention to come up here and tell you how to do things, and really what we want to do is understand how health and social care works in Shetland, and what can we do nationally to support that good work,” she said.

In particular she highlighted the support in Shetland for “growing your own” staff as well as early intervention and prevention.

Todd said one aim of a national care service is to build something for the future, especially given the ageing population.

“We’re going to have to do things differently…but that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve standards right across the country,” the minister said.

Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart.

However Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said her party, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has “long opposed” the national care service proposal.

She said it amounts to “plans for spending money unnecessarily on new bureaucracy, which could be spent on frontline resources, services and staff”.

“Shetland has a widely acknowledged, well integrated system of social care,” Wishart said.

“The minister has praised the work of the council and support given to care staff.

“The Scottish Government would do well to listen to local concerns about the National Care Service which include fears that national standards would be below the current levels in Shetland.”

The Lib Dem added: “Staff across our health and social care sectors continue to work hard after the unprecedented disruption of Covid. Investing in frontline workers across Scotland would help attract and retain staff.”

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