Scottish Government Response to 'Carers Legislation - Consultation on Proposals - January 2014'
On 22 January 2014 the Scottish Government launched 'Carers Legislation - Consultation on Proposals'. The consultation ran for 12 weeks and closed on 16 April 2014.
Chapter 7: Identification of carers and young carers
Question 22 Should there be no legislative provision for GPs or local authorities to maintain a Carers Register in order to support the identification of carers?
Question 23 Should the Scottish Government ensure that good practice is widely spread amongst health boards about the proactive use of Registers of Carers within GP practices?
Question 24 Should the Scottish Government ask health boards to monitor compliance with the core contractual elements of the GP contract?
What we heard
There was support amongst respondents for legislative provision for GPs or local authorities to maintain a register of carers, in order to support the identification of carers. However as the requirement to hold a register of carers is already a contractual element of the GP contract, we did not consult on this.
GPs were felt to be in a strong position to be able to identify carers. However there were comments that such a register would need to be kept up to date and that guidelines may be needed to underpin its use. Concerns were expressed about access to the register and data protection.
Almost all respondents supported the idea that good practice about how to use the carers register in a proactive way should be widely spread among health boards and GP practices, with the aim of ensuring that carers were identified and referred on for a carer's assessment (ACSP and YCS) and potential support. There was evidence that this was already happening in some areas.
Where GP practices already maintained a register of carers, respondents saw advantage in sharing best practice across health boards (and other NHS bodies and other agencies responsible for providing support to carers) which they considered would lead to a more joined-up approach to the provision of services. Some also thought this would lead to greater consistency of approach across Scotland.
A large majority of respondents agreed that the Scottish Government should ask health boards to monitor compliance with the core contractual elements of the GP contract. This was felt to increase accountability of GP practices for the requirement to maintain a carers register, help to identify areas of non-compliance and be beneficial to carers.
The Scottish Government response
Although we did not consult on specific legislative proposals relating to the setting up and maintenance of a register of carers, we did seek views on the way forward to help support the identification of carers and young carers.
We recognise that GPs in particular and other health professionals too are key to identifying and supporting carers through interaction with carers in their own right, and with those they care for.
Given the widespread support amongst respondents for the sharing of best practice, the Scottish Government will continue to work with key stakeholders including health boards and GP practices to ensure that this is shared. We intend to embed this aspiration in carer policies we are developing alongside the Bill.
Health boards are already required to monitor the contractual and statutory requirements under the GP Contract. We will build on what we have already done to date by contacting health boards to follow up on the role of GPs and other health professionals in identifying carers. We will consider other non-legislative measures about the role of GPs.
It should be noted that many of the provisions we intend to set out in the Bill will support the identification of carers and young carers and facilitate their access to an ACSP and YCS. Where the local authority identifies a carer or young carer for example, there will be a duty on the local authority to offer a carer or young carer an ACSP or YCS (and to provide one if the carer or young carer accepts the offer). Individuals will also have a right to request an ACSP or YCS and local authorities will be under a duty to provide one, once the individual has been identified as a carer. Local authorities will also be obliged to set out in their local carer strategies their plans for identifying carers. We fully expect local authorities to take the views of the health board on this part of the local carer strategy to ensure that the role of GPs and other health professionals in identifying carers is fully addressed.
Email: Alun Ellis
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