HUMZA Yousaf has been urged to ditch the National Care Service, with the Scottish Conservatives hitting out at the “eye-watering” costs already associated with the set-up. 

According to a recent Freedom of Information request submitted by the party, the number of civil servants working on the plans has quadrupled in the space of a year.

In February 2022, there were 40 officials working on the Bill, including two senior civil servants.

By February 2023, this had increased to 166, including three senior civil servants.

The Tories also revealed that since August 2021, about £6,993,000 has been spent on the salary bill of civil servants working on the NCS, with £989,000 spent in November 2022 alone.

READ MORE: First Minister's flagship National Care Service set to be delayed

Last month, the legislation paving the way for the service was delayed until after the SNP leadership contest.


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

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: What next for Scotland's National Care Service reform?

The Tories have today repeated their call for the service to be scrapped.

The party's shadow minister for social care, Craig Hoy, said: “Humza Yousaf is virtually the only person who still thinks his reckless, unaffordable plan for a National Care Service is a good idea.

“These eye-watering figures reveal the already-huge cost implications of his proposals, not to mention the use of valuable civil service resources.

“As health secretary, Humza Yousaf was an architect of this misguided policy – which has been opposed by virtually every stakeholder, including SNP MSPs. But it’s time for him to swallow his pride and ditch it now.

“These plans are unworkable and it is clear from these statistics that this project is already costing a fortune.

“Social care is in crisis in Scotland but the last thing we need is this bureaucratic nightmare, which will only divert scarce funds away from frontline care services.

“Kicking the NCS into the long grass, by merely delaying it, won’t cut it. Humza Yousaf must admit he got it wrong and stop pouring good money after bad.

“He should instead pass this funding on to Scotland’s councils, which are far better placed than SNP ministers to determine local care needs in their areas.”

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

The Tory call came as the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland asked for a meeting with ministers to discuss its members’ “serious concerns” about the plans.

Eileen Mckenna, associate director of nursing, policy and professional practice at the union, has written to social care minister Maree Todd to request a meeting and express concern that the Bill as it stands “lacks fundamental detail”.

She said the plans were an “expensive and disruptive structural overhaul” and claimed they failed to “fix the current problems” facing the social care sector.

She said: “We welcome the minister to her new role and have requested a meeting to discuss our serious concerns about the National Care Service Bill.

“We are calling for the Scottish Government to take time to engage with stakeholders - including staff working at all levels within the social care and community health sectors - and to develop detailed plans for reform prior to taking forward primary legislation."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our plan for a National Care Service will deliver consistency and quality of care.

“Health and Social Care Partnerships received an additional £528 million for 2022-23 to improve care and increase staff pay and we are working with those who access and provide care to design how the NCS will work.

“The First Minister met with the Cosla President, councillor Shona Morrison, last week to agree a new deal which provides greater flexibility over local funding and clear accountability for delivering shared priorities.

“Despite UK Government cuts, we have protected councils in the most challenging budget since devolution to provide nearly £13.5 billion in the 2023-24 Local Government Settlement – a cash increase of over £793 million or 6.3%, which is a real terms increase of £376 million or 3%.”