THE ORGANISATION that oversees Scotland’s care sector has labelled proposals for ministers to intervene in care homes before obtaining permission from the courts as unnecessary and warned the rules risk causing “alarm and distress” for residents.

The Scottish Government has put forward proposals for emergency legislation that would allow a nominated officer to intervene in a care home before obtaining a court order to do so.

But Scottish Care has warned that the powers are already available to the Scottish Government and will cause more distress to care home residents and their families.

In evidence submitted to Holyrood’s Covid Committee, the organisation said: “There is, of course, an important need for those requiring care to have security of continuity and quality of care.

READ MORE: Scottish care homes not taking 'free money' their staff are due 'a significant failing'

“However, this legislation risks being counterproductive to this aim through the creation of alarm and distress for individuals and families in relation to the provision of their care, at what may already be a time of significant challenge.

“What’s more, the effective implementation of the integration of health and social care and the oversight of health and social care partnerships ensures the necessary level of fiscal and clinical oversight by means of existing legislation.”

Committee convener Murdo Fraser quizzed Health Secretary Jeane Freeman on the issues raised by Scottish Care.

He said: “We have representations from Scottish Care, who say they are not convinced there is sufficient rationale and evidence for the introduction of these regulations and they highlight that Scottish ministers already have the powers to enter into acquisition agreements.

“Their concern is that this legislation risks being counter-productive, causing alarm and distress for individuals and families in relation to the provision of their care at what may already be a time of significant challenge.”

READ MORE: Jeane Freeman defends support after care homes flagged staff shortages during Covid outbreak

Ms Freeman said that “the powers have not been used up to this point” and stressed that they are “exceptional powers” which “allow us to act very swiftly”.

She added: “Scottish ministers can act in advance of court agreement but does need to secure the agreement of a court within 24 hours of acting.

“I understand, to a degree, the concerns that are expressed by Scottish Care but actually I disagree that this provides additional anxiety or upset to families and residents or indeed to staff.

“I think it provides an additional assurance to those individuals that in those exceptional circumstances where we are talking about life and limb, then Scottish ministers can act swiftly in order to ensure the protection of residents in an particularly care home in those circumstances.

“These are exceptional powers that would only be justified to use in exceptional circumstances.”