THE soaring number of elderly people who will live on their own underlines the need for a "wholescale review of the NHS," according to opposition politicians.

New figures released by the National Records of Scotland predict a 161 per cent rise in the number of pensioners over the age of 85 who will have no company at home by 2037.

In the same time frame the number of pensioners aged 65+ living alone will reach 488,200, a rise of 51 per cent compared to 2012, according to the report.

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Neil Findlay, Scottish Labour's health spokesman, said the data released this week was "exactly why" he had been calling on the SNP to have a close look at health and care services.

He said: "We have to plan now for our growing elderly population, waiting until it happens is too late. We need services to be co-ordinated, from GP's to social care and from community support to hospitals.

"The reality now is far from co-ordinated with the elderly subjected to seven-minute care visits or left in hospital because care home beds aren't fit for purpose.

"We know NHS boards are straining at the seams and councils are cash-strapped as they struggle to cope with the SNP's underfunded council tax freeze."

He stressed starting the review would be one of his first actions were he health minister.