The future role and status of carers is set to be different in
Scotland from the rest of the UK if the recommendations of the
carers legislation working group are implemented.
The working group, created by the Scottish executive following
the publication of the strategy for carers in Scotland in November
1999, comprises representatives of the Scottish executive,
carers’ organisations and carers themselves. The core of its
30 recommendations is that carers be given the legal status of
service providers rather than as service users as the Carers and
Disabled Children’s Act 2000 does in England and Wales.
The rationale behind this proposal is that Scotland’s
626,000 carers are estimated to provide 75 per cent of long term
care saving the taxpayer an estimated £3.4 billion every year.
John Wilkes, director of the Carers National Association Scotland,
said: “If the report’s recommendations are implemented, for
the first time, carers will be fully recognised alongside the NHS
and local authorities as key partners in the support system for
frail, ill and disabled people.”
Other recommendations of the report include a statutory duty on
the NHS to identify carers, the right of carers under 16 years for
an assessment of their needs, a legal obligation to provide
information about their rights and available support and a
breathing space created by treating carers as carers for a period
after their caring ends.
The working group’s report is now being circulated to
statutory and voluntary groups for consultation. It is hoped that
it will be incorporated into the long term care bill due to be
introduced to the Scottish parliament in the autumn.