THE Scottish Government is set to delay the flagship National Care Service with legislation being pushed back until June, according to reports.

MSPs were set to debate and vote on the underfire scheme later this month.

According to the BBC, ministers have now put it off until after Nicola Sturgeon's successor is in place. 

All three candidates vying to be Scotland's next first minister have promised to look again at the current plans, including Health Secretary Humza Yousaf who introduced the legislation last year. 

READ MORE: Kate Forbes: Scotland 'may not require' a National Care Service

The new law would let the government set up ‘care boards’ directly accountable to the Scottish Ministers who will take on functions and staff that are currently managed and run by local authorities and health boards.

The aim is to provide a standard level of care across the country and end the "postcode lottery".

Nicola Sturgeon has described it as the biggest public sector reform since the NHS in 1948.

Criticism of the Bill has been mounting in recent months, with MSPs, councils, unions and organisations and carer’s charities all calling for a pause. 

Earlier this month, groups representing staff and users of the new service said the legislation needed “significantly more time.”

READ MORE: Labour welcomes Yousaf's National Care Service 'u-turn'

Opposition parties said they were not surprised by the delay.


Scottish Labour Social Care spokesperson Paul O’Kane said: "After wasting months defending these unworkable plans, it seems the SNP are finally willing to u-turn.

“Social care in Scotland is crying out for support, but no-one thinks these botched plans are the solution.

“It’s no wonder every single SNP leadership candidate has a different opinion on this shambles.

“The government must commit to supporting struggling social care services right now by delivering fair funding for services and fair pay for care workers."

Scottish Conservative shadow social care minister Craig Hoy said: “Kicking the National Care Service into the long grass simply is not good enough. The costly and reckless plans to centralise care services across Scotland should be scrapped completely.

“The trio of SNP leadership candidates have clearly seen which way the wind is blowing on their own party’s plans. Every stakeholder and a series of parliament committees – including those featuring SNP MSPs – have lined up to outline their overwhelming opposition to it.

“Rather than merely delaying it, this should be the moment when the penny finally drops for the SNP to abandon these plans. Ministers have continued to act like they know best despite there being a crisis in social care on their watch."

READ MORE: Ash Regan will 'immediately pause' national care service plans

Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the halt was "essential".

"Next it needs to be scrapped, not salvaged.

“A ministerial takeover and billion-pound bureaucracy would fail to solve the core problems in social care. The money must be moved instead to frontline services and staff who are firefighting on every shift.”