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Health and Community Care Committee

18th Report 2001

Annual Report of the Health and Community Care Committee for the Parliamentary Year 12 May 2000 to 11 May 2001

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SP Paper 408

Session 1 (2001)

 

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

Priorities and Inquiries

One of the highpoints of the year was the conclusion of the Committee’s in-depth inquiry into the delivery of community care in Scotland. The Committee’s report, which built on the work of Sir Stewart Sutherland’s earlier Royal Commission report, endorsed the values of fairness and equity and supported the principle that care in the community, whether delivered to older people, individuals with mental health problems or those with learning disabilities, should always be informed by evidence-based best practice in care and rehabilitation. The Committee concluded that services should contribute to the maximisation of quality of life in the community – services covering housing, lifelong learning, leisure and transport as well as the NHS and local authority social work departments. The report contained 44 recommendations. One of the most significant recommendations was that there should be no charge for services assessed as being required to meet the personal care needs of an individual. This report has been instrumental in the Executive bringing forward legislative proposals which will be scrutinised by the Committee later this year.

Bills

Scrutinising Executive legislative proposals is an important part of the Committee’s work. The Regulation of Care (Scotland) Bill was the Committee’s first opportunity to deal with a Bill from beginning to end and members made significant contributions in helping to produce the finished legislation.

Subordinate Legislation

The Committee handled 58 Scottish Statutory Instruments, 12 being affirmatives and 46 negatives. The Committee published 17 subordinate legislation reports covering a variety of subject matters from amnesic shellfish to meat hygiene and inspection.

Petitions

The Committee is not afraid of tackling difficult and sensitive issues and this is perhaps best demonstrated by its report into the Measles Mumps and Rubella

vaccine (MMR) and possible causal links with autism. The inquiry was held as a result of a petition submitted to the Committee. Given its heavy workload the

Committee appointed a Reporter to carry out a full investigation into the matter which resulted in a unanimous report supporting further research into the causes of autism. The Committee concluded that on the basis of currently available evidence, there is no proven scientific link between the MMR vaccine and autism or Crohn's disease and therefore there was no reason to doubt the safety of the MMR vaccine. Accordingly no change in the current immunisation programme was recommended at the present time. However the Committee fully recognised parental fears and called on the Executive to address many of the unanswered concerns raised by establishing an Expert Group to investigate this matter further. This is only one example of the 28 petitions considered in the course of the year.

Fact finding and reporters

Committee members carried out a series of fact finding visits around Scotland that contributed significantly to the Committee’s report on the delivery of community care in Scotland. Other reporters appointed include Richard Simpson to investigate the effect of influenza vaccines especially in relation to the allocation of hospital beds in winter and Malcolm Chisholm followed by Dorothy-Grace Elder who considered fuel poverty. The Convener visited and reported on the operation of nursing homes in the course of the consideration of the Regulation of Care Bill. Petition PE 217 on Single GP practices saw Margaret Jamieson the Deputy Convener appointed as reporter which led to the publication of a committee report.

 

Meetings

From 11 May 2000 to 10 May 2001, the Committee met 29 times. 4 of these meetings were held wholly in private; 13 were held partly in private. Of those meetings held in private, all were to discuss the wording of draft reports. All meetings were held in Edinburgh.

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