Glasgow social care staff ‘anxious’ over National Care Service plans

Social care staff in Glasgow are experiencing “significant levels of anxiety” over plans for a National Care Service, a health boss has reported.

Susanne Miller, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership’s (HSCP) chief officer, said concern among workers is “inevitable” as the proposal is developed.

Under the plan, a series of care boards would be set up to run social care services rather than local councils, a move which would make Scottish Ministers directly responsible.

Speaking at a Glasgow Integration Joint Board (IJB) meeting on Wednesday, Ms Miller said: “The one thing to say and I have said it to the Scottish Government is that we will need to ensure that we manage carefully our frontline staff and managers’ anxiety because it will, and it already has, provoked significant levels of anxiety.

Care boards would take over social services from the councils.

“Our day job in the partnership is a complex one, made more complex by covid, and we are heading into winter. If this winter is the same as last winter, we will have a lot to do in our day job.

“So we need to, that expression, hold the dressing room. It is going to be a real challenge for us as a HSCP team and with your support as an IJB.”

She added the “general anxiety” among staff has tended to be about “what does it mean for me in terms of my employment?”

Glasgow’s HSCP, a partnership between the council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, currently delivers community health and social care services and is directed by the IJB.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said the National Care Service (NCS) plan, which follows a review into the future of social care, is “the most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS.”

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

However, Scottish Labour has called the move a “power grab” which “threatens the very existence of local government in Scotland.” The party’s health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said: “The wholesale transfer of over 100,000 staff away from local government is a recipe for chaos and uncertainty and people receiving services may suffer as a result.”

A Bill was published by the Scottish Government earlier this month and the service is expected to be launched before the end of this parliamentary term in 2026.

Ms Miller told the IJB: “The Scottish Government intends running design school workshops because there is a commitment to a co-creation around the NCS, so I am anticipating over the summer we will find out more about that co-creation process.

“There is quite a lot of water under the bridge between now and its implementation, it will carry with it a significant legislative programme, so we will have to steel ourselves and pace ourselves for the long-haul in terms of the debate and discussion and our contribution to it.”

Asked whether staff were anxious over the potential workload under a NCS or about their employment possibly being transferred, Ms Miller said: “It has tended so far to be the latter in terms of feedback from frontline staff and managers.

“As chief officer, I have some anxiety about the day job and making sure we create the capacity to properly contribute to the co-creation of the NCS.

“It was part of our consultation response, both as an HSCP and IJB, to properly contribute to that requires quite a significant capacity whilst the day job is under such pressure. We are going to have to make a conscious effort to create that capacity because we can’t add it to folks’ day jobs.”