Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called for a “root and branch” review of social care provision in Dumfries and Galloway.

Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership (DGHSCP) agreed at their meeting in December to carry out a consultation on community hospitals following local campaigns to re-open the hospitals closed at the start of the pandemic. The partnership have said it will hold a series of community events across the region to gather views on everything from care homes and respite care to cottage hospitals. However, Colin Smyth believes it must go further.

Colin Smyth said: “Let’s be clear, the Health and Social Care partnership are only holding this consultation as a response to the backlash over the failure to re-open community hospitals. But the reality is, the system of social care in our region is broken and this review must go way beyond community hospitals.

“We need a root and branch review of every aspect social care provision in Dumfries and Galloway not just community hospitals. That review must also include home care and the reasons why we cannot recruit enough carers, the woeful lack of suitable housing, and the market failure of only having private care homes in the region.

“Right now we’re in the midst of a care crisis, with delayed discharge figures some of the worst in Scotland which damages patients’ recovery, drains precious funds from our NHS at the worst possible time and is resulting in an enormous pressure on NHS staff caring for people who shouldn’t be in hospital.

“We need proper investment in social care so that people can get the support they need and the NHS can focus on treating people.  We don’t have enough carers to support people in their homes and care homes are closing. We must look at how we can start paying care workers a fair wage of £12 an hour, rising to £15 which would help with the recruitment crisis.

“There is also a need for a long term approach on housing. We have known for years there is an aging population yet there has been little investment in appropriate accommodation such as sheltered housing locally and that is impacting on the level of delayed discharge. The council and our social landlords need to revisit their housing strategy to assess how we ensure a better supply of housing options to allow older people to live at home longer.

“It will not be easy but we can’t go on like this, we need a radical rethink on how we fund and deliver social care across the region.”

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