Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), today responded to Audit Scotland & the Accounts Commission’s report ‘Health and social care integration: update on progress’:

“The Auditor General has rightly reminded us that the purpose of integrating social care and health services is to improve the outcomes and experiences of the people using those services and their families. That requires a genuine partnership of everyone involved. This report confirms what I hear on a daily basis – the third sector is seldom given anything other than tokenistic involvement in Integrated Joint Boards’ processes and the voice of the citizen is lost in bureaucracy. While no one can argue with the good intentions behind integration, the mechanisms simply aren’t working. This report should be read together with last month’s report from the Auditor General on the NHS where she made it very clear that we simply cannot continue with things the way they are. We need to genuinely shift our attention and spending to prevention, early intervention and wellbeing. The requires an honest debate with the public and all political parties to focus on improving the wellbeing of our communities, not on opportunistic political point scoring.

“The Auditor General has confirmed that good quality social care is what most people need, and what protects them from needing higher tariff health interventions. Yet we continue to undervalue social care and we perpetuate a commissioning system that dehumanises the people who need our care the most.

“The third sector delivers the highest quality social care, and the vast majority of community activities that promote wellbeing, inclusion and social interaction. We deserve to be taken seriously and local authorities and health boards need to recognise that.”