The National Care Service (Scotland) Bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

When enacted it will allow Scottish ministers to transfer social care responsibility from local authorities to a new, national service. This could include adult and children’s services, as well as areas such as justice social work; the Scottish Government would need to consult with the public before transferring children’s services or justice social work responsibilities to the new service.

Ministers will also be able to transfer healthcare functions from the NHS and health boards. These could be delivered nationally or locally. New bodies called "care boards" would be responsible for delivering care locally.

The bill will make ministers accountable for adult social care in Scotland, a change strongly supported by those responding to the recent consultation on the plans.

While the bill provides the foundation for the National Care Service, it leaves the detail to be co-designed with people who have direct experience of social care services. Plans have also been published to explain how that collaboration will work. The aims are to:

  • support people in their own homes or among family, friends and community wherever possible, with seamless transitions between services;
  • create a charter of rights and responsibilities for social care, with a robust complaints and redress process;
  • introduce rights to breaks for unpaid carers;
  • introduce visiting rights for residents living in adult care homes, giving legal force to "Anne’s law";
  • ensure fair employment practices and national pay bargaining for the social care workforce;
  • focus on prevention and early intervention before people’s needs escalate; and
  • create a new National Social Work Agency to promote training and development, provide national leadership and set and monitor standards in social work.

The bill will allow information to be shared by the National Care Service and the NHS.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf commented: "This is the most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS.

"People have told us they want a National Care Service, accountable to Scottish ministers, with services designed and delivered locally. That’s exactly what we are going to deliver.

"The design of the NCS will have human rights embedded throughout, and the actual shape and detail of how the NCS works will be designed with those who have direct experience of accessing and providing social care."

Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart added: "One of the key benefits of a National Care Service will be to ensure our social care and social work workforce are valued, and that unpaid carers get the recognition they deserve.

"When this bill passes we will be able to have the new National Care Service established by the end of this parliament. In the interim we will continue to take steps to improve outcomes for people accessing care – working with key partners, including local government, and investing in the people who deliver community health and social care and support."