Third sector bosses have hit back at claims by a politician that nationalising care for the elderly is the answer to Scotland’s care crisis.
Speaking on BBC Scotland, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said that a radical revamp of elderly care is required in Scotland.
However his comments that the third sector cannot be relied upon to provide care have sparked an angry response.
Leonard said: “We don’t think that system, dependent on commercial values or even charitable values, is the right way forward. We think the time has come for a more radical approach to the provision of care for our elderly.”
Asked whether he meant that care should be provided by local authorities, he replied: “Absolutely, I don’t think we can simply leave it to commercial principles, the market or indeed the third sector to provide it.
“The principle of the NHS, which was based on free provision based on general taxation, is one I think we need to examine in care for the elderly and that means looking at levels of taxation in society.”
However Dee Fraser, deputy director of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS), said the Labour leader had conveniently ignored that voluntary sector care and support providers generally achieve higher quality gradings in inspections than the public sector.
She said: “The real problem here is the system. Competitive tendering for social care is toxic as it focuses on process and price rather than people. We need a radically better way of planning and paying for care and support that’s led by the person; not by the contracting authority.
“We do indeed need significant investment in social care in Scotland. However I’d suggest that is better invested in the organisations already providing high-quality support in an increasingly hostile environment, rather than in a nostalgic dream of 1945.”
The Caring for people at home report, carried out by the Care Inspectorate, showed that 50.1% of services run by voluntary organisations gained all very good or excellent grades – compared to 29% for the private sector and 23.2% for the public sector. Only 1% of services run by the third sector were found to have grades of unsatisfactory or weak for all of the inspection criteria.
John Downie, director of public affairs for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), also highlighted the quality of support provided by the sector.
“The facts, figures and inspections by regulators show that care provision by the third sector performs at a consistently high level,” he said.
“The third sector delivers a wide range of public services driven by charitable values and the mission to support communities across the country. The Labour leader needs to enter a discussion with the third sector about how to provide better public services in Scotland, and SCVO is willing to be part of that dialogue.”