Hundreds of Scots died in 2015 while waiting for social care packages

MND campaigner Gordon Aikman. Pic: Lisa Ferguson.

MND campaigner Gordon Aikman. Pic: Lisa Ferguson.

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Hundreds of Scots died last year waiting for social care packages, according to shocking new figures.

The statistics have been revealed by MND patient and campaigner Gordon Aikman who has called for the Scottish Government to take urgent action to resolve a ‘cruel crisis’ in social care caused by cuts to council budgets.

Mr Aikman, who has been tirelessly raising money for MND research and campaigning for better patient care, sent Freedom of Information requests to Scotland’s 32 councils.

There were 26 replies revealing that at least 276 people died last year while waiting for care to be organised.

The information also showed that some people are waiting for over a year for their social care packages to start.

The figures revealed that at the start of November, at least seven people had been waiting more than six months and one had been waiting nearly two years for a care package.

Councils that did not provide figures included East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Highland, North Lanarkshire, and Renfrewshire.

Gordon Aikman, founder of GordonsFightback.com, was diagnosed with MND in June 2014. He is now supported by carers three times a day.

He said: “With hundreds of Scots dying for care, this study lays bare a cruel crisis in care caused by cuts to our councils.

“Behind these figures are real people with stories of desperation, misery and indignity. Imagine it was your mum or your son waiting months for the help they need to live their life.

“Given our parliament now has revenue-raising powers, it need not be this way. A caring, compassionate Scottish Government would end the cuts, properly invest in social care and pay care workers the Living Wage they deserve.”

Dave Watson, head of policy at UNISON Scotland, the largest union representing social care staff in Scotland, said: “These shocking figures highlight the crisis facing social care services in Scotland and that includes an undervalued and overwhelmed workforce.

“If we want a social care system that can meet the needs of our population and treat people in a dignified way, then we need to invest in it.”

Ranald Mair, chief executive of Scottish Care, which represents providers of care at home services, said: “Scottish Care is clear that Mr Aikman and others who access care and support services need

to have access to the right amount of quality care, at the right levels, at the time they require it.”

He continued: “There needs to be more investment in the support available to people in their own homes in order to ensure this is possible.

“We know there are already parts of Scotland where it is proving difficult if not almost impossible to recruit or retain homecare staff at the levels that current funding allows. This leads to people being stuck in hospital unnecessarily, as well as unacceptable restrictions on choice and flexibility of services.

“What’s more, if this under-resourcing of homecare services continues, we will be facing a real crisis whereby the quality and the sustainability of homecare services are severely

compromised.”

He added: “This could lead to people who require care services in Scotland being unable to access services in their own homes because these services are simply unable to operate, which is absolutely not the direction that health and social care services in Scotland should be heading in.”

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “I deeply regret anyone having to wait longer than necessary to receive their care package and we will continue to work hard with councils to improve provision.

“In the biggest single reform since the health service was established, the Scottish Government is joining up health and social care for the first time to ensure that our health boards work seamlessly with local authorities to deliver the best possible care.

“That is why next year’s budget contains an additional quarter of a billion pounds’ investment in social care to be delivered through integration boards, to protect and grow social care services and to deliver our shared priorities in respect of reform.

“This is additional to the £500m I have already committed to support implementation of health and social care integration.

“We are committed to supporting councils, NHS Boards and integrated health and social care partnerships to ensure that their social care packages are arranged effectively to meet the needs of local people.

“That is just one of the reasons that, despite cuts of nearly 10 per cent to the Scottish budget from the UK Government, local government has been treated very fairly by the Scottish Government and protected from the worst impact of UK cuts.”