A union has called for a national care service to replace Scotland's 'broken' care system after the coronavirus pandemic.

With deaths in care homes rising despite declining in hospitals, Unison said adult social care has been the 'forgotten front line' in the country's response to the Covid crisis.

Scotland's social care sector has been accused of being 'woefully underprepared' for the pandemic in a report entitled Care After Covid: A Vision for Social Care in Scotland.

It said an inadequate testing programme and employer pressure on care workers to attend work against public health advice meant they were exposed to “significantly higher” risk of contracting Covid-19.

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Unison Scottish secretary Mike Kirby said: “If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that competent, confident, properly rewarded workforces improve the quality of care they can provide. In short, improving training, standards, pay, and fair working conditions improves the lives of vulnerable people who rely on care services.

“For too long the care system has been weighted towards price and profit. Underpaid, undervalued and undermined staff are at breaking point. The Covid-19 crisis has exposed just how desperately the care sector needs reform.

“The NHS and local government workforce terms and conditions set a benchmark. Any reform must build on the few positives to come from the pandemic – that care staff are highly skilled people, providing quality care, despite the many challenges they face.

“Never again should there be vulnerable people dying in their thousands in care homes because of poor planning, ignorance, or the pursuit of profits.

“Fundamental reform to create a system fit for the future is not optional, it is essential.”

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The union are calling for staff to be paid at least the Scottish Living Wage, and say they should be entitled to a new standard employment contract which would include sick pay, contracted hours and payment for any time spent on duty.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including that everyone working in the care sector should undergo a minimum level of training to drive forward professionalisation and raise standards, and that care workers should be added to the government’s shortage occupation list.

The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.