Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Free care 'needs more monitoring'

Elderly couple on bench
Ministers will launch a long-term care review in 2009

Scotland's free personal care policy needs to be better monitored as the elderly population grows, a Holyrood committee has said.

The government should also define more clearly what services people receive to end the postcode lottery of provision across different council areas.

The call came from the parliament's Public Audit Committee, which has been investigating the flagship policy.

Ministers will launch a review of long-term care needs next year.

The committee said councils had not provided the government with good enough information to know how much they were spending on the policy, or how much it would cost in the future.

"The Scottish Government must ensure that all the costs associated with the delivery of (free personal and nursing care) are accurately monitored and reported from now on," the report said.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the committee's recommendations were consistent with the action ministers were taking forward.

"Early in the new year, we will also introduce legislation to end charging for food preparation and we are working with local government to improve financial monitoring and how we measure outcomes for older people," she added.

The committee report came after a review of free personal care by Lord Sutherland, which led to ministers providing an extra 40m a year in funding for the policy.

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