Social care: Independent Review of Inspection, Scrutiny and Regulation


The Scottish Government announced an Independent Review of Inspection, Scrutiny, and Regulation of Social Care in Scotland (IRISR) on 23 September 2022. Dame Sue Bruce was appointed as the Chair of the IRISR with Mr Stuart Currie as the Vice Chair.

The Chair and Vice Chair were supported by two advisory panels, the Independent Review Panel and the Practitioner and Stakeholder Panel. Both panels included people with lived and living experience and provided expert knowledge and advice in making the IRISR recommendations. The membership of the panels reflected the key policy areas covered by the IRISR. 

Recommendation report

The IRISR recommendation report was published on 27 September 2023:

The executive summary of the recommendation report is available in Gaelic, Polish, Arabic and Urdu. If you require a different format or language please email:


The IRISR made reference to other national reviews underway or recently completed, including the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, The Promise, The Scottish Drugs Deaths Taskforce Final Report Changing Lives, Putting Learners at the Centre and the Skills Delivery Landscape and the Scottish Mental Health Law Review.

Inspection, scrutiny, and regulation play an important role in ensuring that people experience safe and high-quality social care support, based on their needs, rights and choices. It was recognised that the present system of inspection, scrutiny and regulation has been in place for two decades and over that time there has been a lot of change across the social care support sector. The IRISR was initiated to ensure that inspection, scrutiny and regulatory systems remain fit for purpose against the  backdrop of other independent reviews calling for change across the social care and wider support landscape.

The IRISR looked at how social care support and linked services are inspected, scrutinised and regulated across Scotland. The IRISR considered how to ensure a human rights-based and person-centred approach is central to the inspection, scrutiny and regulation of social care support and linked services, including how this can be applied to deliver improved outcomes for people and meet the needs of a future National Care Service (NCS).

The IRISR listened to the views and experiences of people with lived and living experience, including those who work in and use social care support and linked services such as housing support, addiction services and community health as well as the regulatory and improvement bodies. 


The IRISR was announced in September 2022 and the recommendation report was published in September 2023.

The scope of the IRISR was to:

  • explore how regulation and inspection of social care services and partners who contribute to care and wellbeing can be effectively supported to improve outcomes and experiences for the people of Scotland
  • ensure regulation, scrutiny and inspection of social care arrangements have a basis in human rights
  • ensure appropriate scrutiny of all aspects of the NCS

Terms of reference

The terms of reference for the IRISR were to:

  • make recommendations as to how inspection, scrutiny and regulation of social care, and linked services, have a basis in human rights and trauma informed practice, is inclusive of people with lived and living experience and how best to ensure continuous improvement is standard practice
  • consider what the inspection, scrutiny and regulation of social care, and linked services landscape needs to look like to ensure it meets the requirements of the National Care Service (NCS)
  • consider how any new arrangements will meet the needs of and interface with services that are not part of the NCS
  • ensure that any new approach to inspection, scrutiny and regulation of social care, and linked services is future proofed and flexible
  • consider what data will be needed for regulation and improvement and how data sharing can be improved, standardised and tied into wider work considering the data requirements for the NCS in line with the UKGDPR UK General Date Protection Regulation (UK GDPR)
  • be inclusive of wide ranging engagement with stakeholders including people with lived and living experience and unpaid carers
  • consider if there is a need for an independent scrutiny body for inspection and regulation of social care and support services in Scotland similar to that of the Professional Standards Authority in England or otherwise, taking account of the reserved nature of professional regulation of the clinical professions
  • complete the Independent Review and publish findings and make such recommendations you think appropriate across all considered areas and any other recommendations as you consider appropriate in accessible formats

Secretariat and sponsorship agreements

Secretariat support for the Chair and Vice Chair was provided by the Regulation and Improvement Unit of Social Care and NCS Development Directorate.


A stakeholder engagement programme for the IRISR took place between October 2022 and January 2023. This consisted of two main elements: a call for evidence and a series of engagement events. Both elements of the programme focused on five key themes:

  • Theme 1: A person-centred approach
  • Theme 2: What needs to be inspected, scrutinised, and regulated?
  • Theme 3: How should inspection, scrutiny, and regulation be carried out?
  • Theme 4: How will we know systems are working?
  • Theme 5: How will systems of inspection, scrutiny, and regulation support the workforce?

Engagement events

  • thirteen online engagement events took place, led by the Vice Chair, with people from across Scotland participating
  • seven in-person events took place in Orkney, Inverness, Peebles, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kirriemuir, and Ballater
  • the engagement events were attended by 149 people
  • attendees included a wide range of providers of social care support, representative bodies, regulators, local authorities, advocacy organisations, individuals, and others

Call for evidence

  • the call for evidence was launched on 24 October 2022 and ran until 13 January 2023
  • details of the call for evidence were shared widely across the social care support sector and other linked services
  • responses to the call for evidence were submitted using the consultation platform Citizen Space

Read further information and published submissions from the call for evidence.

Independent analysis report

  • the call for evidence submissions and notes from the engagement events were independently analysed by Why Research, who were commissioned through the Scottish Government procurement process.100 responses were received, 60 were from organisations and 40 from individuals
  • a list of all those organisations that submitted a response to the call for evidence is included in appendix 1 of the IRISR call for evidence analysis report
  • the IRISR Call for evidence analysis report sets out the findings across the five themes in detail

Report versions

Advisory panels

The IRISR was supported by an Independent Review Panel and a Practitioner and Stakeholder Panel, both appointed by the Chair. Their role was to strengthen and assist the IRISR by providing specialist advice to inform recommendations made by the Chair.

Both Panels met on a monthly basis and an action note of each meeting is linked below.

Independent Review Panel


The members of this panel are:

  • David Strang CBE, QPM
  • Gordon Black MB, ChB, FRCGP, DRCOG, DCH, MSc
  • Lee Knifton
  • Lillian Cringles
  • Megan Moffat
  • Neelam Bakshi
  • Paul Redfern CMIIA, CIA, QIAL, MSc
  • Satjit Singh FRSA
  • Professor Kate Sang​​​

Read the terms of reference for the Independent Review Panel.

Practitioner and Stakeholder Panel


The members of this panel include people from the following organisations or groups:

  • Adoption UK
  • British Association of Social Workers (BASW)
  • Care Home Relatives Group
  • Carer Centres Managers Network 
  • Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS)
  • Coalition of Carers in Scotland
  • Coalition of Care and Support Providers (CCPS) 
  • Community Justice Scotland 
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) 
  • Early Years Scotland (EYS)
  • Inclusion Scotland
  • National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) Scotland
  • People Led Policy Panel (PLPP)
  • Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS)
  • Scottish Adoption 
  • Scottish Care
  • Scottish Childminding Association
  • Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs
  • Scottish Kinship Care Alliance 
  • Self-Directed Support Scotland
  • Shelter Scotland
  • SIAA
  • Social Work Scotland 
  • Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) 
  • The Health and Social Care Alliance (The Alliance)
  • The Promise Scotland
  • The Royal College of Nursing Scotland (RCN) 
  • The Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance Network

Read the terms of reference for the Practitioner and Stakeholder Panel.

Alternative versions 

If you require a specific format or language of the information within this page or any of the links, please email 

Easy read version

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