1. Advocacy has an important role in supporting people to express their views and in providing a source of support which gives them the confidence to speak out. Advocacy is vital in nurturing trust and effectively supporting people to ensure their views are taken into account and that they are heard. It also provides an environment in which they can confidently raise any concerns they may have with their advocate in the knowledge that there are no conflicts of interest that might limit what the advocate can and cannot do. It is vital that anyone who might benefit from using an advocate feels confident about making that contact, without any real or perceived worries about conflicts of loyalty on the part of the advocate.
2. In this consultation we are seeking views on a revision of the Guide for Commissioners originally published by the Scottish Executive Health Department in 2001 and subsequently revised and reissued by the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance in 2010.
3. Since the publication of the Guide for Commissioners in 2010 there have been several developments. For example the publication of the NHS Healthcare Quality Strategy in 2010; the provision of joint Scottish Government and COSLA Guidance on Procurement of Support and Care Services in 2010; the introduction of the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011; the introduction of the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011; publication of the Carers and Young Carer's Strategy in 2010; and the publication of the Patients Charter of Rights and Responsibilities in October 2012.
4. Extensive work has also been undertaken with the Scottish Government Directorate Children and Families Steering Group which looked at the provision of advocacy for children and young people and the principles and standards and special considerations that should apply. We will consult separately on supplementary material focussing specifically on advocacy for children and young people. That material will be designed for use in conjunction with the Guide for Commissioners.
5. The draft guide has been updated to reflect these and other relevant developments. It has also been updated to reflect Commissioners' statutory responsibilities for the provision of independent advocacy and the principles and standards they should apply when commissioning advocacy services.
6. We are keen to hear your views on the content of the draft Guide to Commissioners prior to finalising this for issue.
Email: Sandra Falconer