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Commencement Date for Scottish AAC Legislation

by Allan Wilson

on Mon Jan 08, 2018

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The Scottish Parliament passed the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Act 2016 back on 3rd March of that year. Part 4 of the Act introduced a legal duty for NHS Health Boards in Scotland to provide communication equipment and necessary support for any person who has lost their voice or has difficulty speaking. Although the Act was passed in 2016 it has not yet been formally "commenced" as various details needed to be sorted out. The Scottish Government has now issued a letter stating that the Act will commence on 19th March 2018.

Here's the text of the letter sent to CALL (and other organisations) outlining the timetable for commencement:

I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the progress to commence Part 4 of the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Act 2016 – Provision of Communication Equipment by confirming our timetable, which has now been agreed with our colleagues in Scottish Government legal department and which is set out below. I would like to thank all of you for the advice and expertise you have provided as part of this process.

Timetable:

  • The Scottish Statutory Subordinate Instruments (SSIs) will be laid in Parliament on the 29th January 2018 and require 40 days to be considered by the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee (DPLRC) and the lead committee which on this occasion will be, the Health and Sport Committee.
  • Following this 40 day period, a commencement date of 19 March 2018 has therefore been confirmed to allow for the above process to occur, and which will confer a legislative duty on NHS Health Boards to provide or secure communication equipment and support in using that equipment to such extent as they consider necessary to meet all reasonable requirements, to any person who has lost their voice or has difficulty speaking.

To note, the proposal for ‘where the duty lies’ is that the legislative duty will transfer from Scottish Ministers, where it is at present, to NHS Boards. This will mean that where current services for augmentative and alternative communication are managed and commissioned by Integrated Joint Boards through delegated arrangements under the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014, these delegated arrangements will apply to the new duty. If they are not under the auspices of delegated arrangements then the duty will rest with the NHS Board  

Directions have been drafted in collaboration with stakeholders on i. the definition of communication equipment; and ii. the definition of support in using that equipment. We would like to thank all of those who have contributed their expertise and time in drafting these. We will be in touch with a further update in the new year.

Please accept my thanks to you all for working with us over the last few months on this key part of our wider programme of work on augmentative and alternative communication.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with you over the coming months.

There are various routes available for arranging an assessment for a communication aid, and getting equipment and support, but responsibility for this will lie with the AAC Lead for each Health Board, listed on the Augmentative Communication in Practice: Scotland web site.

Tags: aac, legislation

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