Holyrood committee backs carers bill



Proposed legislation that aims to provide better support to Scotland’s carers has been backed by theHealth and Sport Committee.

However, MSPs are calling for the Scottish government to address a number of concerns.

In its stage one report on the Carers (Scotland) Bill, the committee outlines its concern that the costs the government has set out to pay for implementation of the legislation may be underestimated and that this may have a detrimental effect on other care services.

MSPs are calling on the government to commit to providing additional funding should the costs of implementing this bill be significantly higher.

On the detail of the proposals the committee is concerned that the broadening of the definition of a “carer” could reduce local authorities ability to prioritise cases which may then result in resources being diverted away from those cared for people most in need.

The committee also believes that there should be a greater emphasis in the bill on the role of the NHS, integration of joint boards where appropriate and that GP practices in particular could play a greater role in identifying carers.

MSPs also share the concerns of carers’ organisations that a lack of consultation with carers when the person for whom they are caring is admitted to hospital or most importantly when they are discharged, could lead to unnecessary readmissions to hospital.

The committee has recommended that the government respond to the call for a duty to be placed on health boards to involve carers in hospital admissions and discharge procedures.

Convener of the committee Duncan McNeil MSP said: “It is clear from our work into this legislation that carers make an invaluable contribution within our society and that this role often goes unrecognised.

“Our committee believes that this legislation will significantly contribute to supporting carers. However, we have a number of concerns which we are asking the Scottish government to urgently address.

“We are also calling for assurances from the Scottish government that this bill actually has the resources behind it to deliver the step change that it promises on paper.”

Deputy convener of the committee Bob Doris MSP said: “During our scrutiny of this legislation we spoke too and heard directly from many carers across Scotland to get their view on how this bill would influence their lives and the life of the person they care for.

“The committee was clear that this legislation would provide a better deal for carers and would enable support services to be more targeted and focused on the carer themselves.

“However, there are clearly areas of detail that the Scottish government needs to work on as this legislation progresses through Parliament.

“Our committee was clear that areas such as the role of the NHS and GPs and consultation with carers on hospital admissions are two areas that need action.”