RESTORING the NHS must be the priority after the election, Scottish Labour has said, not "settling old scores". 

Party leader Anas Sarwar made the comments as he set out an NHS "recovery plan" at the launch of his party's Holyrood election campaign.

It includes proposals to get cancer treatment back on track, improve mental health care and give carers "the pay they deserve".

The blueprint aims to clear the backlog of cancer screening appointments within a year, and highlights 7,000 missing cancer diagnoses as a result of Covid.

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It comes amid a renewed focus on the independence debate and the ongoing upheaval in the SNP following the launch of Alex Salmond's Alba Party.

Scottish Labour's election campaign will focus on a ‘National Recovery Plan’ with five themes: jobs, the NHS, education, climate and communities.

The NHS proposals include the creation of a national care service, "a real pay rise" for NHS staff and an increase in social carers’ pay to £15 an hour, with an immediate rise to £12.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: "Covid has reminded us of the value of our NHS, but the past year has not come without a cost.

"Waiting times have soared, there are missing cancer patients, a growing mental health crisis, and an exhausted workforce.

"Restoring the NHS and Scotland’s health will be key to Scotland’s recovery, and we can’t go back to the old way of doing things.

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"This plan offers solutions to ensure we can restore our NHS and that is what this election is about - solutions for the future; not the arguments of the past.

"Better public services; not settling old scores.

"A national recovery plan to unite our country; not an obsession with what divides us.

"After the last few days, it’s clear that only Scottish Labour is focused on what unites us so that together we can build a stronger recovery for a fairer Scotland."