3 November 2021

National Care Service Consultation

Scotland Excel highlights existing role in national care commissioning.

Scotland Excel has expressed concern at plans to establish a National Care Service (NCS) for Scotland.

In its response to the government consultation, Scotland Excel states it is fully supportive of the Scottish Government’s work to improve social care outcomes. However, it also highlights its concern at the absence of current roles and responsibilities in relation to national commissioning from the consultation document.

Scottish Government plans follow its acceptance of the recommendations of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care published earlier this year (the ‘Feeley’ Report) and were outlined in the consultation for a National Care Service (NCS), which closed on 2 November 2021.

In effect, the plans to centralise adult social care together with children’s services and community justice would mean removing these responsibilities from Scotland’s 32 local councils. The consultation also proposed that social care commissioning be overseen by the NCS – something Scotland Excel has been delivering for more than a decade.

In both the ‘Feeley Report’ and in the Scottish Government consultation there is little mention of the existing national commissioning and procurement activity. Scotland Excel’s Chief Executive, Julie Welsh believes this is a significant oversight.

Scotland Excel has extensive experience of delivering national, person-centred commissioning solutions in Scotland, which drive positive change and embed policy.  It began working on the first national social care arrangement more than 10 years ago, and today, this is a key strategic function for the centre of expertise  

Julie Welsh, Chief Executive of Scotland Excel said:

“I believe that the consultation did not accurately describe the full picture. It is critically important for Scottish Government to recognise the context in which current procurement and commissioning decisions are made, the extent to which limited budgets drive existing practice, as well as the complexity of this landscape.

“If the plan is to set up a new commissioning and procurement service within the NCS, there will be considerable cost to the public purse. We have provided a national commissioning approach for social care since 2008, working closely with Scotland’s 32 local authorities in a successful and collaborative way.

“Because we work closely and in partnership with councils, HSCPs and providers, we are uniquely positioned to continue to support decision making in relation to local versus national options and can utilise this to extend our current role further to support commissioning going forward.”

At present, a significant proportion of social care services are externally commissioned which requires a clear understanding of the complex social care markets in Scotland.

Julie added:

“It is, of course, important to acknowledge that more can be done to change and improve commissioning practices. I believe that some of the current issues relating to practice can be addressed by empowering commissioners to make full use of the flexibility provided by procurement legislation, enabling more activity to be undertaken in innovative and collaborative ways.

“The risk of not carefully considering the future of commissioning arrangements cannot be overstated. I believe that our successful track record of making improvements demonstrates that Scotland Excel is well placed to support the new National Care Service by continuing to oversee national commissioning for social care services.” 

Scotland Excel's response to the consultation is available to download.