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Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill - Response to the Call for Written Evidence from the Health and Sport Committee

The UNISON Scotland Submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee on their call for written evidence for their consideration of the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill

August 2009


UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to the call for evidence from the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee on certain aspects of the above Bill.

UNISON Scotland has over 160,000 members in Scotland, most of whom work in the public sector across Scotland, over 60,000 in the NHS, SNHS25,000 in social care and almost 400 employed by the Care Commission, who will all be affected by changes proposed in the Bill.

General Comments

UNISON Scotland will be making a more detailed response on the general aspects of the Bill in 64r response to the call for written evidence by the Finance Committee. Therefore, this response will only relate to the establishment of Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland and Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS)

  • Will the amalgamation of the Care Commission and the Social Work Inspection Agency create a more cohesive scrutiny system?

This would replace the current Social Work Inspection Agency and Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care and repeal the Joint Inspection of Children’s Services and Inspection of Social Work Services (Scotland) Act 2006.

UNISON Scotland would generally support the principles in the bill, namely the reduction of quangos and the creation of Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland, but we have some concerns regarding the process of restructuring and the impact it could have on the services our members provide and the effects on the staff who deliver them.

We are unconvinced of the benefits of self regulation, which the recent problems in the Finance Industry have shown to be inadequate. We believe that rigorous regulation of services, such as child protection must be undertaken by professionals who are able to ensure that such services meet the standards outlined by the Scottish Government.

With regard to the operation of the SCSWIS, UNISON would urge that it should incorporate a duty for all employers, in the public, private and voluntary sectors to be bound by the SSSC Code of Practice for Employers.

We are not convinced that the anticipated savings, as outlined in the Financial Memorandum, will occur – even in the longer term. In particular we do not believe that money set aside for issues such as voluntary redundancies, will be sufficient. The Government will need to ensure that adequate resources are allocated to the new body and recognise that the continual push for efficiencies will not help with this. We appreciate this may reduce quango numbers, but believe it is largely cosmetic.

We are pleased to note that UNISON’s Scottish Regulation of Care Branch has been involved in discussions with the Project Team setting up the new service. However, there are unresolved issues with the current bargaining machinery and we hope this is the opportunity to remedy them. There are many issues regarding terms and conditions for all the staff who will be part of SCSWIS. For example there are wide differences in the pay of those working for the Care Commission, SWIA and HMIe and these will need to be resolved. We would urge a levelling up of pay rates, rather than down and a proper system introduced to evaluate the work carried out by all staff. For example, all staff carry out inspections, but only current Care Commission staff have enforcement powers, in addition to this.

With regard to inspections of educational establishments, there will need to be thought given to the qualifications of inspectors. For example, some inspections in early years’ premises are currently solely undertaken by HMIe inspectors who must have a teaching qualification and inspect both the education and care functions of these establishments. Care Commission staff do not currently inspect the education functions. UNISON believes that other inspectors in the new body, including those with early years’ qualifications should be able to carry out these inspections. Clarification is needed on any changes that are planned and consideration given to how equality can be achieved within the new organisation. The standards for all establishments are set by Ministers and will need to be enforced equally without different rules for different sectors.

In addition, other bodies should be involved, e.g. prisons, police and the fire service are all involved in safety. Memorandums of understanding have been developed with some of these bodies and clarification is required about their continuation.

UNISON believes that regulation of care services as outlined in the Bill is crucial for the optimum delivery of services for our service users and that as rigorous a regime as possible must be upheld across all sectors covered by the new Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS). All service providers who are not performing or delivering services to an acceptable standard must be made to bring those services up to an acceptable level.

Section 86 of the Bill refers to Transfer of Staff, etc. and UNISON would wish to see inclusion of a specific reference to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland

  • Will the establishment of Health Improvement Scotland lead to improvements in the registered independent healthcare services and the NHS in Scotland?

UNISON Scotland supports the creation of Healthcare Improvement Scotland which we believe will continue the work currently undertaken by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland and mean a bringing together of the regulation of most healthcare services across the NHS and the independent sector.

Unfortunately, there is very little information about how the new body will operate, which makes it difficult to comment in any detail about any expected improvements.

UNISON is pleased that our officials in the Scottish Healthcare branch are being consulted on the arrangements for the setting up of the new service and trust that the integration of staff being transferred from the Care Commission will be handled appropriately.

We await information about the future of the Mental Welfare Commission once further consultation has taken place.


Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
UNISON Scotland
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Fax 0141-331 1203


For further information please contact:

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser – Policy

Diane Anderson, Information Development Officer


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