Our NHS is the envy of the world. Created by a Labour Government with the founding principle of providing healthcare free at the point of need, from the cradle to the grave, it is one of our nation’s greatest achievements.

When the pandemic hit, both our NHS and social care sectors faced new challenges in ever more difficult conditions. 

We all saw the pictures of care staff during the early days of the pandemic – exhausted faces, skin bruised from hours of wearing PPE, visibly angry at the lack of leadership from both of our governments. 

Now, during the biggest fall in living standards since rationing, those same care staff have been offered a pathetic 48p pay rise from the SNP Government. 

Our social care system feels like the undervalued, underfunded, partner of the health service and something that successive governments have failed to fix. 

Despite 15 years in government and endless manifesto pledges to sort out social care, the SNP have failed to deliver the necessary investment or change, leaving too many Scots without the care they need. 

It does not need to be this way. Scottish Labour proposed a National Care Service over a decade ago. We are ambitious and bold –with a proper plan for social care. 

HeraldScotland:

Scottish Labour want to see the social care system finally treated as an equal to the NHS. That means moving to a system that would see care delivered on the basis of need, not ability to pay. 

It is not right that people can rely on the NHS for cancer treatment but face having to pay thousands of pounds every year for the care they need if they develop dementia in old age.

We will also end non-residential care charges.

Scottish Labour would use future health and care funding from the UK to cover the costs of residential care for older people aged over 65, lifting the financial burden from them and their families. 

Implementing this change will mean that everyone over the age of 65 who is assessed as needing residential care is able to access it, without having to worry about how they will pay and provide for their families. 

Our social care sector should be a place where people want to work, with staff properly compensated for their hard work.

By delivering a pay rise uplift to £15 per hour for all social care staff Scottish Labour will value and retain carers in the sector. 

We will also value family carers who have borne a heavy load in caring for relatives during the pandemic.

Our plans are ambitious and our commitment is relentless.

Labour founded our National Health Service- now, we want to build a National Care Service worthy of the name. 

Jackie Baillie is Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.