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Five priorities for new Health Secretary

Scottish Parliament debating chamber

22 February 2024

Age Scotland write to Neil Gray outlining older people’s health and social care to-do list

Age Scotland’s chief executive has written to the new Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care, Neil Gray, to outline the escalating challenges faced by older people accessing health and care.

In her letter, Katherine Crawford shared findings from the charity’s 2023 Big Survey, in which 84% of respondents said getting timely access to healthcare was the single most important issue facing older people. She also highlighted the increasingly desperate state of social care services across the country and urged Mr Gray to make fixing social care a priority.

She wrote:

“I’m sure you would acknowledge we are facing a crisis of access to social care, medical assessments, and many treatments, as the NHS and health and social care partnerships struggle to overcome shortages of staff, resource challenges and growing waiting lists.

“We must fix social care in Scotland. We cannot wait for the delivery of the National Care Service as the sole means of doing so. There is so much to be proud of in our social care sector, but a crisis of resource, staffing and service availability is having a profound effect on the country. Many of the challenges facing our NHS, not least delayed discharge figures, could be addressed if social care really got the attention it deserved.”

The letter outlined five initial priority areas identified by older people:

  • Cut waiting lists - particularly for routine operations and procedures
  • Bring forward the renewed health and social care strategy for older people.
  • Introduce a timeline and plan to scrap day care charges.
  • Take swifter action on Anne’s Law to ensure vital care home visiting rights are embedded in legislation.
  • Fix social care by addressing the crisis of resource, staffing and service availability.

Ms Crawford issued an invitation for Mr Gray to meet with Scotland’s national charity for older people, with a view to sharing more insights and finding out what his plans are for improving the lifeline services.