The NHS and local authorities in Scotland will share responsibility for elderly care to end the practice of budgets being shunted between departments, it has been confirmed.
Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said community health partnerships will be replaced by health and social care partnerships which will be the responsibility of both the NHS and councils.
The Scottish government says it is concerned about the practice of “cost-shunting”, where disputes arise between NHS boards and local authorities over who should pay for the care of older people. The practice has seen people held up in hospital beds until the disputes are resolved.
Ms Sturgeon said: “There is too much inconsistency in the quality of care for adults and older people across Scotland. There is too much variation in the level of resources invested in care locally by health boards and local authorities, and in the outcomes that those resources achieve.
“Too many people are unnecessarily admitted to hospital or delayed there when they are clinically ready to leave hospital. And for too many people, the experience of moving between health and social care services as their care needs change is not smooth enough.”
She added: “We will introduce legislation to bring about a radical transformation of community health partnerships (CHPs).
“CHPs, currently subcommittees of NHS boards, will be replaced by health and social care partnerships which will be the joint and equal responsibility of the NHS and local government.”
Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie welcomed the proposed legislation but said Labour would have gone further.
She said: “Our vision was for a national care service, as radical as the creation of the NHS, bringing fairness and raising standards in the provision of care.
“The SNP would have you believe that we were creating another quango, another bureaucratic monolith, but that deliberately misunderstands the proposal. There is no new body, no new civil servants. This is about having national care standards for services that are delivered locally, a model that is currently used in the health service.”
Conservative public health spokeswoman Nanette Milne said an overhaul of CHPs was “long overdue”.
She said: “The existing CHPs have become overly bureaucratic. Indeed, they have failed from their very inception to engage clinicians particularly, as the Cabinet Secretary has said, at a primary level but also at a secondary level to bridge the gap between health and social care.”