NICOLA Sturgeon has suggested she supports calls to “remove the profit motive” from the care home sector amid a pledge to investigate setting up a parallel system to the NHS.

Yesterday, the First Minister announced that as well as a full immediate review taking place into Scotland’s adult social care, plans will begin to set up a national care service.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard welcomed the move, pointing to his long-held commitment to the policy – claiming the SNP has “come round to our way of thinking”.

He said: “My concern is that the First Minister doesn’t seem to know what a national care service should look like.

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“She shouldn’t need an independent review to tell her the basic principles it should be built on.

“We know that three quarters of Scotland’s care homes are currently run by private providers which have higher rates of staff vacancies and higher rates of staff turnover.”

He added: “We believe that a National Care Service must remove the profit motive form the delivery of care.

“This is not a technical matter – it is a political question, it is a moral question. Why can’t the First Minister bring herself to agree?”

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Ms Sturgeon said: “I do agree and I agree with the principles that Richard Leonard has enunciated.

“You have to work out, not just the vision that you’re seeking to achieve, but the detail of how you get from here to there. It’s really important that we do that properly, we do that systemically and we understand all of the practical issues.

“It is my job, the Scottish Government’s job not just to say what we want to happen, but actually put in place the plans that can deliver it. That’s the serious work that we are committed to undertaking.”

Mr Leonard told Ms Sturgeon that, for adult social care to be effective, what went wrong would need to be understood. 

Pointing to a conversation he had with campaigner Alan Wightman, whose mother died in a Fife care home in May, Mr Leonard asked if the First Minister would call an “urgent review” into adult social care during the pandemic. 

Ms Sturgeon expressed her condolences to Mr Wightman and anyone else who has lost a loved one in a care home as a result of Covid-19. 

She added: “I deeply regret, and I know everybody does, every single loss of life in this pandemic overall and particularly – because of the vulnerability of the people involved – those who lost their lives in care homes.” 

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The First Minister said it was her job – along with ministers – to make sure the “undivided focus” of the Scottish Government is on the coronavirus response. 

She said: “We learn lessons as we go along in that and we take a whole range of advice on the steps that we put in place. That is why, on a range of things, from the guidance that is in place through to testing, care home visiting, we’ve changed our position as we learn more about the virus experience people have had. 

“We will continue to do that, and while I’m not complacent and every single death is one too many, we have seen over a number of weeks the situation in care homes improve in terms of a reduction in cases and thankfully a vast reduction in the number of older people who are losing their lives.”