CORONAVIRUS has highlighted the failings of Scotland’s social care system and the need for a new “cradle to the grave” National Care Service (NCS) to run alongside the NHS, a think tank has said.

Common Weal (CW) first submitted its draft principles for a NCS to the Review of Adult Social Care by Frank Feeley, a former chief executive of NHS Scotland. This was commissioned after thousands of residents died in care homes across the country as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and is due to report this week.

The think tank developed its submission into a new Manifesto for a National Care Service, which it believes should judge the Feeley Review recommendations.

Its manifesto goes beyond the remit of the review and calls for care to be considered as a whole.

“A National Care Service should be a universal service from the cradle to the grave providing care to all who need it,” it read.

“All citizens irrespective of age, ethnicity, gender, or creed should have a right to care, based on need, as they do to health and without discrimination.”

CW said the Scottish Government had missed an opportunity in setting up the review to end the “fragmentation” of social care and build on the recommendations of the Independent Care Review for Children. Recommendations from that review were accepted by the First Minister last February.

CW said its principles would result in all care being not for profit, provision being free at the point of use, and the current system being transformed by recognising that “relationships are central to what makes good care, not a tick list of tasks”.

Care and support would also be given to all who need it, reversing cuts made since the imposition of austerity, and provision would become more preventive, reversing the trend to focus on those with “priority” needs.

The initiative would be designed from the bottom up and the whole workforce would be “properly trained” and paid at local authority rates. It added that service users, informal carers and the workforce would be given control where it mattered “instead of the current tokenistic emphasis on rights”.

CW said it had unveiled the manifesto now because it had “serious concerns” over the extent to which Feeley would deliver on the principles, which it believed “reflect the aspirations that many people in Scotland have for a new NCS”.

The think tank said its Care Reform Group had used these principles to develop a new blueprint for a National Care Service, which it would publish “in due course”.

Nick Kempe, from the group, which produced the manifesto, said: “Covid-19 has exposed to the public the massive crisis in care that has been building for years, a result of marketisation, lack of resources and well-intentioned but misguided policy reforms.

“Scotland’s care system, from children to addictions, from disability and mental health to older people, is broken and in need of fundamental reform.

“Common Weal believes we need a new vision for care in Scotland, a National Care Service to sit alongside the NHS as a key component in a revitalised welfare state.

“Our manifesto sets out the fundamental principles needed to provide the foundations for such a service. We hope they will promote public debate and further thought about how a National Care Service should be developed.”

Craig Dalzell, head of policy and research at Common Weal, added: “It must be the case when we discuss major reform that we create something that answers the question of what the purpose of social care actually is and how these plans propose to fulfil that purpose.”