A NON-politician is to sit in future meetings of Labour's shadow cabinet to promote the interests of carers, the party announced yesterday.

Health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie, right, said the new appointment would ensure the needs of those looking after relatives, whose work saves the public sector £10 billion a year, would be a key factor in policy making.

She said: "We are determined that the concerns of carers will be at the very heart of our policy and thinking as we move forward. Not just in the health portfolio, but in education, in employment, across every area of devolved responsibility."

Baillie also attacked the SNP's record on NHS funding, saying it was leading to staff cuts and patients being left with not enough bedding in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

She said: "The SNP can't even get the basics right. In one hospital in Greater Glasgow and Clyde patients are even having to share blankets because of the cuts." Baillie later admitted that this claim was wrong: no patient had been left without their own blanket, only that some patients wanted more blankets.

Baillie also said MSPs Dr Richard Simpson and Graeme Pearson, a former police chief, would work up new measures to tackle health and crime problems linked to alcohol.

In addition, Drew Smith, the shadow social justice minister, is to establish a "sounding board" to help address child poverty.