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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 12:00 GMT
Inquiry into free personal care
Man in wheelchair
MSPs want feedback on the free personal care policy
Holyrood's health committee has launched an inquiry into free personal care for the elderly.

Committee members will travel across the country to take evidence from those who received free care under the policy and their carers.

The MSPs will also take part in Care Commission inspections to learn more about the practicalities of delivering care in Scotland.

The inquiry could last up to 12 months and will be followed by a report.

Free personal care for the elderly was one of the landmark decisions of the first Parliament
Roseanna Cunningham,
Health committee convenor

Committee convenor Roseanna Cunningham said it was time to check whether the Scottish Executive's flagship policy had delivered what was promised.

She said: "Free personal care for the elderly was one of the landmark decisions of the first parliament.

"We want to see how it is working in practice, and whether it is delivering what was promised.

"Earlier this year, in Perth, we held a major consultation event asking all those involved what the focus of our inquiry should be.

"We wanted to be certain to focus on the key issues for those directly affected by the operation of free personal care on the ground, as well as the Care Commission's work."

Evidence gathering

Ms Cunningham added that the remit of the inquiry reflected the views put to the committee at the Perth consultation and called on others to share their experiences of free personal care and the Care Commission.

The Scottish National Party MSP for Perth said: "Members are particularly keen to hear from 'consumers' of free personal care, and their carers, to ensure that their views are given a voice in the inquiry."

As well as an open call for written evidence, the inquiry will involve a number of other evidence gathering activities.

These will include organising three case studies to examine the implementation of the care legislation on the ground.

Care services

Committee members will also visit care facilities to consult with beneficiaries and providers in East Lothian, Inverclyde and South Lanarkshire.

Free personal care was introduced in Scotland in 2002 by the Community Care and Health Act.

The Regulation of Care Act 2001 established the Care Commission with a remit to regulate and inspect all care services, from old people's homes to nurseries.

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