Committee calls for better monitoring of free personal and nursing care costs

18/12/2008

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee has called for better monitoring of the cost of free personal and nursing care in a report published today.

The document follows the publication of the Auditor General for Scotland ’s report – ‘A Review of Free Personal and Nursing Care’ and Lord Sutherland’s ‘Review of Free Personal and Nursing Care in Scotland ’.

In its findings, the committee welcomes the commitment by the Scottish Government to provide an additional £40million a year to support the free personal and nursing care policy. However, it also highlights the potential impact that demographic change and inflation could have on the sustainability of care provision in the future.

Committee Convener Hugh Henry MSP said: “We are asking the Scottish Government to ensure that all the costs associated with the delivery of free personal and nursing care are accurately monitored and reported from now on to ensure that long term funding needs are identified.”

In its work the Public Audit Committee looked at the consistency of the provision of free personal and nursing care across Scotland .

Mr Henry said: “The committee believes that everyone assessed as requiring free personal and nursing care should receive a consistent level of care and support, regardless of where they live in Scotland . We are therefore asking the Scottish Government to clarify what services are provided as part of this policy and how long people will wait to receive these services.”

The committee report also looks at the clarity of the original legislation and its resulting guidance.

Mr Henry said: “It is well known that some councils have been charging clients for the preparation of meals while others provide this service free of charge. We welcome the commitment by the Scottish Government to revise the legislative framework underpinning this policy. We are also asking the Scottish Government to ensure that any resulting reimbursements to councils are done in an equitable way.”

The committee has also called for better public awareness of the policy. Mr Henry said: “The Committee believes that it is essential that people in Scotland are clear about their entitlements under the FPNC policy”.

Background notes
This Public Audit Committee report  has been published following the Committee’s inquiry into the Auditor General for Scotland ’s report ‘A Review of Free Personal and Nursing Care’ and Lord Sutherland’s ‘Review of Free Personal and Nursing Care in Scotland .’

The Audit Scotland report, published on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland, aimed to evaluate the robustness of financial planning, monitoring and reporting arrangements for free personal and nursing care; examine the current costs and funding allocations for free personal and nursing care across councils; and identify the financial impact of free personal and nursing care on older people, the Scottish Government and councils.

Lord Sutherland’s review of FPNC in Scotland
Lord Sutherland’s report, commissioned by the Scottish Ministers and known as the “Sutherland Report”, was published in April 2008. The review panel was asked to look at the total resources available to implement the policy, how these resources were distributed amongst local authorities, the impact of the withdrawal of Attendance Allowance to pensioners in receipt of FPNC on the financial balance between the Scottish and UK Governments and the long-term sustainability of the policy.

Following the publication of Lord Sutherland’s report, the Scottish Government accepted the findings in full and committed an additional £40 million per annum to the policy.