Gathering views on the draft National Care Service charter of rights and responsibilities

Gathering views on the draft National Care Service charter of rights and responsibilities

The Scottish Government asked us to find out about people's views on a draft of the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for the new National Care Service (NCS).

The Scottish Government is working with people and organisations across the country to improve community health, social work, and social care support in Scotland. It is introducing the National Care Service (NCS), which aims to make sure everyone has access to consistently high-quality local services across Scotland, whenever they might need them. The NCS is being shaped in collaboration with the organisations and people who have experience of accessing and delivering community health, social work, and social care support. One part of this work is developing the NCS Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. The Charter will help people to better understand their rights and what they can expect from the NCS. The Charter will also provide a clear way to get further support and advice, and explain how to make a complaint if rights are not met.

In August 2023, the Scottish Government asked us to find out people's views on the Charter, especially people who often access Community Healthcare from vulnerable or seldom-heard groups. The engagement for this Gathering Views exercise represents one important strand of the Scottish Government’s wider work to co-design the Charter. Over 500 people have been involved in co-designing the Charter so far.

Targeted engagement took place in October 2023 through individual or group interviews, recruiting 20 participants overall who are frequent users of Community Healthcare and also belong to one or more of the following groups:

  • pregnant people and mothers of children up to 18 years old
  • trans and non-binary individuals
  • people from minority ethnic backgrounds
  • people from minority religious communities

Participants were given the latest version of the draft Charter at the time of the engagement in advance, as well as the question set so they could reflect and prepare for the interview.

Our report summarises the feedback from participants as well as key areas they highlighted for improvement.

Early findings from this work were shared with Scottish Government in December 2023, leading to early updates of the draft Charter. An updated draft NCS Charter is expected to be made available online in due course.

Gathering Views on the Draft National Care Service Charter of Rights and Responsibilities
Download the report

File type: pdf
File size: 786 KB
Publication date: May 2024

Key findings

The Charter in the context of Community Healthcare: It was clear to most that the Charter applies to Community Healthcare. However some improvements were suggested, for example, in how Community Healthcare is defined in the Charter and what roles are included; explaining who the Charter is for; and how participants understand the different aspects of health and social care. Participants also wanted more specific information, such as around condition-specific challenges, charitable organisations, and the roles of carers and guardians.

Service user rights: The majority of the participants were happy with the section around users’ rights, saying it is clear, easy to read and inclusive, covering what they would expect to see. Many discussed areas for improvement, however, such as having an exhaustive list of rights in one place, making the language clearer and easier to understand, and expecting to see what happens when user rights are not respected. Further rights that participants would like to see added were also discussed, for example around person-centredness, accessible formats and resources, and being able to access further and specialised support and care.

Service user responsibilities: Participants identified a range of responsibilities on users of care services. Some said they would like this to be expanded on in the Charter to ensure these are clear and don’t assume prior or implicit knowledge.

Further information needs: Many said they would like further information included in the Charter, for example around the NCS, what it is, and how to access support through it, information about advocacy, and inclusive communication. Participants also highlighted that the implementation of the Charter must be accompanied by improved communication, including between staff and services to support the discussed rights and responsibilities, as well as a more person-centred and joined-up approach to care, with improved relationships.

Charter aims: The majority of the participants agreed that the Charter meets its aims. Some participants said it was good to know that the Charter defends users’ rights and the value of feedback and complaints. However, some would like the Charter aims to be referenced earlier in the document and with more detail and easier to access language.

Relevance and use of the Charter for participants: Most participants agreed that the Charter applies to their experience of Community Healthcare. Some participants thought the Charter was not relevant to them personally or their experiences, but recognised that it would be for others. Most participants said they would use the Charter if they had issues with the care they, or people they support, were receiving, or if they wished to make a complaint. Participants discussed the Charter as a good resource to rely on and a useful reference, but some thought that the Charter wouldn’t impact on their daily life. It was clear that most participants didn’t think they would use the Charter unless they had issues with their care.

The ‘Charter landscape’: Most participants were not aware of the Health and Social Care Standards nor the NHS Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities. For the few that were aware of these, this was due to activities related to work or volunteering. Most participants said that these are good resources to have and that they would use these if they had issues with their care, or needed to make a complaint or advocate for themselves or others. However, participants highlighted that, while these are good to have, low public awareness limits their benefit. Some participants were unsure how these resources will work alongside the NCS Charter. Participants also discussed the need for further clarity around the remit of these resources, to make it easier for people to know which one to use.

Priorities and key areas for improvement around the NCS Charter of Rights and Responsibilities: Key priorities and areas for improvement focused on supporting access, inclusion, and equality aspects, and highlighted the importance of the Charter leading to improvement of health and care in practice, and to improved understanding and engagement in health and care.


Based on what people told us, we made 6 recommendations including specific aspects that should be considered by the Scottish Government in the development of the NCS, and the NCS Charter specifically, working where appropriate with partner organisations, such as NHS Scotland, COSLA and others.

Recommendation 1

Consider implementing changes in the content, language, and structure of the NCS Charter based on these findings to increase clarity and understanding, and address information needs.

Recommendation 2

Ensure the NCS Charter helps users find the specialised information they need through appropriate signposting.

Recommendation 3

Work towards increased clarity within the ‘Charter landscape’.

Recommendation 4

Ensure the appropriate implementation of the NCS Charter and that it is supported by relevant processes as needed.

Recommendation 5

Ensure the impact and use of the NCS Charter is monitored, evaluated, and communicated to the public.

Recommendation 6

Work towards increasing awareness and understanding of the NCS Charter, among public and staff.


The draft Charter is continually being reviewed following insights and recommendations from the co-design process.

Participants in this engagement work commented on a draft of the Charter that was used between June and December 2023. An updated version has since been developed, which includes some insights from the feedback we gathered as well as from other co-design work being carried out at the same time. The Charter will continue to be updated and refined until the launch of the NCS.

You can find out more about the proposals for a National Care Service on the Scottish Government's website.

Last Updated: 13 May 2024