HEALTH campaigner Gordon Aikman has called for council cuts to be reversed after revealing figures showing hundreds of Scots died last year waiting for social care packages to begin.

Figures obtained from local councils using Freedom of Information laws showed 270 people died before social care was put in place.

Responses from 26 of the country's 32 local authorities revealed some patients waited more than a year for care packages to begin.

In a single week last year, more than 12,000 hours of social care which had been approved were not provided.

Motor neurone disease patient Mr Aikman, who receives care three times a day, said: "With hundreds of Scots dying for care, this study lays bare a cruel crisis in care caused by cuts to our councils.

"Given our parliament now has revenue-raising powers, it need not be this way.

"A caring, compassionate Scottish Government would end the cuts, properly invest in social care and pay care workers the Living Wage they deserve."

The call was backed by Dave Watson, of Unison Scotland, the largest union representing social care staff in Scotland, who said: "These shocking figures highlight the crisis facing social care services in Scotland and that includes an undervalued and overwhelmed workforce.

"If we want a social care system that can meet the needs of our population and treat people in a dignified way, then we need to invest in it."

The Scottish Government plans to transfer £250 million from the NHS to councils in order to improve social care, which is seen as an essential step towards easing pressure on the health services.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the shift was the most significant element in the government's budget, announced last month.

Responding to Mr Aikman's call, she said: "Gordon and I have on different occasions discussed the things he is campaigning for and I’ve worked very hard to deliver on the very reasonable demands that he has been making.

"One particular issue he raised with me was the provision of care packages for care without charge for people who were terminally ill.

"And before the programme for government last year I gave him a commitment that if local authorities weren’t voluntarily taking the action that we thought they were due to take then we would look at legislating for that and if I consider that requires to be done that’s a commitment I will meet."

Mr Aikman, the founder of Gordon's Fightback, secured a pledge to increase the number of motor neurone disease nurses in Scotland, though a recent report showed the promise had yet to be fulfilled.