HUMZA Yousaf has confirmed the first vote on the under-fire National Care Service has been delayed for a second time. 

The First Minister said he wanted to "reach a compromise" over the design of the service after concerns were raised by unions and providers.  

Holyrood had previously agreed to put the Bill to the vote on March 17, however, it was then delayed until June 28, pending the election of a new SNP leader. The new delay means there now won't be a vote until after the summer.

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The new law will let the government set up ‘care boards’ directly accountable to 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.”

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Mr Yousaf addressed the delay in his speech to the Scottish Trade Union Congress in Dundee on Monday. 

He told delegates at the conference: "On this issue, I believe there is a lot of agreement on principle – that standards and work conditions in social care absolutely need to improve.

"But I also appreciate the concerns that you have raised, particularly regarding local staffing and local contracts.

"And I have listened to those concerns.

"As a result, the Scottish Government has today confirmed that we will be seeking a further extension to the Bill’s initial scrutiny period.

"And I have instructed the new Cabinet Secretary for Health, Michael Matheson, and indeed the new Minister for Social Care, Maree Todd, to engage closely with trade unions on the very issues that you have raised.

"I am confident that by taking that little bit more time, we will be able to reach a compromise – where staff remain locally employed, with local co-design and delivery of services, but within a national framework.

"Clearly, that framework will need to ensure quality and consistency of care.  It will need and will have at its heart, fair work principles and sectoral bargaining.  And it will need to promote ethical commissioning. 

"The outcome of all this cannot be more care provider profits ending up in the Cayman Islands. 

"So, rather than rushing it, I am determined to get the National Care Service absolutely right."

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Scottish Tory social care spokesman Craig Hoy said the delay was “not good enough from the SNP”.

“Every stakeholder has lined up against these proposals to centralise care services but still the SNP refuse to listen,” he said.

“It is time for the SNP, including Humza Yousaf who backed these plans as health secretary, to ditch this power grab on local services for good.

“Social care services are in crisis across Scotland on the SNP’s watch and the last thing they need is this bureaucratic nightmare and more oversight from SNP ministers.

“The Scottish Conservatives have voiced their opposition to a National Care Service since they were first unveiled and it is time the SNP listen to our calls to divert every penny earmarked for it to local care services instead.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “This is a last-ditch attempt to buy some time for support that’s never going to emerge. The National Care Service is a billion-pound bureaucratic ministerial power grab - it needs scrapped, not salvaged.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats are the only party to have stood up against these flawed proposals from day one. The Government’s plans would consume gargantuan amounts of money and time without addressing the problems at the root of social care.  

“This is money that needs to be spent on frontline services and staff who are firefighting on every shift.”