Figures reveal shocking cuts to care by local councils
Cuts to council budgets are causing a “cruel crisis in care", according to a leading care campaigner.
Gordon Aikman, who has motor neurone disease (MND) and fronts the Gordon’s Comeback campaign, said he obtained figures showing that 276 sick and disabled Scots died last year while waiting for care packages to start.
In the week beginning 2 November 2015, 117 people across Scotland were waiting for a package of social care to start. In that week demand for care totalling 12,747 hours went unmet, according to the figures.
The figures were obtained from local councils using Freedom of Information laws.
Aikman, who was diagnosed with MND in 2014, said: “With hundreds of Scots dying for care, this study lays bare a cruel crisis in care caused by cuts to our councils.
“Behind these figures are real people with stories of desperation, misery and indignity. Imagine it was your mum or your son waiting months for the help they need to live their life."
A caring, compassionate Scottish Government would end the cuts, properly invest in social care and pay care workers the Living Wage they deserve, Aikman insisted.
Dave Watson, head of policy at the Unison Scotland trade union, which represents social care staff, said: “These shocking figures highlight the crisis facing social care services in Scotland and that includes an undervalued and overwhelmed workforce.
“If we want a social care system that can meet the needs of our population and treat people in a dignified way, then we need to invest in it.”
Behind these figures are real people with stories of desperation, misery and indignity. Imagine it was your mum or your son waiting months for the help
Scottish Care, the body which represents Scotland's independent care sector, said that without more investment, services were being severely compromised.
Chief executive Ranald Mair said: "Scottish Care is clear that Mr Aikman and others who access care and support services need to have access to the right amount of quality care, at the right levels, at the time they require it.
“There needs to be more investment in the support available to people in their own homes in order to ensure this is possible.
He added: "We know there are already parts of Scotland where it is proving difficult, if not almost impossible, to recruit or retain homecare staff at the levels that current funding allows.
"This leads to people being stuck in hospital unnecessarily, as well as unacceptable restrictions on choice and flexibility of services."
Health secretary Shona Robison said: "I deeply regret anyone having to wait longer than necessary to receive their care package and we will continue to work hard with councils to improve provision.
“In the biggest single reform since the health service was established, the Scottish Government is joining up health and social care for the first time to ensure that our health boards work seamlessly with local authorities to deliver the best possible care.
“That is why next year's budget contains an additional quarter of a billion pounds' investment in social care to be delivered through integration boards, to protect and grow social care services and to deliver our shared priorities in respect of reform.
“This is additional to the £500 million, I have already committed to support implementation of health and social care integration.
“We are committed to supporting councils, NHS boards and integrated health and social care partnerships to ensure that their social care packages are arranged effectively to meet the needs of local people.
“That is just one of the reasons that, despite cuts of nearly 10% to the Scottish budget from the UK government, local government has been treated very fairly by the Scottish Government and protected from the worst impact of UK cuts.”