Integration becomes a reality with rights at the centre
The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill passed through the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (25 February) as MSPs voted to include reference to rights based approaches.
The Bill, which aims to integrate health and social care services across Scotland so that people who use support and services experience them as a seamless service, reached its final stage of Parliamentary scrutiny on Tuesday.
The Bill was further amended by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Alex Neil MSP, at Stage 3 to include reference to "respect for the rights of service users" in its planning and delivery principles. This further embeds a rights-based approach on the face of the Bill – something that the ALLIANCE and a range of third sector organisations have called for throughout the Parliamentary process.
However, MSPs did not back plans to embed the role of the third sector as a key strategic partner clearly on the face of the legislation. Conservative MSP Nanette Milne proposed a change to the Bill that would see third sector organisations’ views taken into account in the planning process. Ms Milne said:
“The Health and Social Care Alliance and many others have called, and continue to call, for third sector sign-off of strategic plans that are prepared by health and social care partnerships. They cite the fact that the sector’s involvement in joint signing-off under the reshaping care for older people change fund has enabled many areas to overcome barriers to partnership and has been a key driver for the cultural change that is widely acknowledged to be the essential foundation of integration. The sector thinks that without its having a more formalised role there is a risk that the bill will not fully achieve its policy objectives.”
Whilst MSPs did not agree with these plans, Mr Neil gave further assurances that under forthcoming regulations people who use support and services, carers and representatives of the third sector will be included in strategic planning groups.
MSPs also voted against amendments to:
- Embed the principle of co-production throughout the legislation
- Ensure consideration is given to support through access to independent advocacy
- Ensure effective access to complaints processes
Following the debate, members voted in favour of passing the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill. The Bill requires Royal Assent and will be followed by statutory guidance and regulations in the coming months. It is expected that integration boards will be fully operational from April 2015.