PLANS to create a National Care Service and implement the biggest public sector reform since the creation of the NHS have been put out to consultation.

The Scottish Government said the proposal will ensure everyone can expect the same standards of care, wherever they live in Scotland.

It said that "at a minimum" the new National Care Service will cover adult social care services, such as care homes. 

However, its scope could also be extended to other groups such as children and young people, community justice, alcohol and drug services, and social work.

It comes after an independent review prompted by the catastrophic impact of the pandemic on care homes called for the creation of a National Care Service on "an equal footing with NHS Scotland".

The consultation sets out some of the options for delivering social care, and recognises significant changes will need to be supported by new laws.

It proposes Community Health and Social Care Boards, with those with lived experience and local politicians sitting alongside professionals.

Social care minister Kevin Stewart said: “The importance of our social care services has never been clearer. 

"We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our nation’s carers, paid and unpaid, for the commitment and compassion we have seen throughout the pandemic.

“The Scottish Government commissioned the Independent Review of Adult Social Care during the pandemic, because it was clear we needed to do things better in future.

“We have already made significant improvements, with reforms such as the integration of health and social care, and implementation of the real living wage policy for adult social care workers and this year the Scottish Government pledged £64.5m to fully fund the pay increase. 

"But we can go further. What we are now proposing is the biggest public sector reform for decades, since the creation of the National Health Service.

“I am committed to implementing the recommendations of the Independent Review and staying true to the spirit of that report by building a system with human rights at the heart of it.

“The Review recommended the creation of a National Care Service, with Scottish ministers being accountable for adult social care support. 

"I believe however that it is right for this consultation to look beyond simply the creation of a national service for adult social care. 

"The ambition of this Government is to go much further, and to create a comprehensive community health and social care service that supports people of all ages. 

"We are also committed to a ensuring there is strong local accountability in the system.

“Absolutely vital to this is ensuring that our invaluable social care workforce feel happy, respected and fulfilled in their role.

“We are at the beginning of a journey to improve social care in Scotland. We will only get this right with your support. 

"I want to hear from as many people and organisations as possible over the next couple of months, so we can build a better system together.”

In a statement, the Social Covenant Steering Group which will advise on the creation of a National Care Service, said: “Most of us have waited many years to see plans for major improvements in the way social care support is delivered and we welcome the publication of this consultation.  

“Many people may feel they have been consulted before and are keen to see some action.  

"But this time it is an important legal step in in order that a bill can be put to Parliament.

“So, it is important that as many people as possible including; current users of social care support, unpaid carers, the workforce and everyone else who cares about this vital support will take this opportunity to express their views on the kind of system we need to enable everyone to reach their potential.”