The job our health and care workers do is vital and means a huge amount to service users and their families.

My grandpa passed shortly before I was elected as an MSP. He had three years of phenomenal social care. 

His carers enhanced his life and ensured that we didn’t have to give up our jobs to look after him. They became part of his social circle and ensured that he was well looked after.

The promise I made was that if I was elected I would sort the working conditions and the pay for his carers. He was all too aware of the problems that they’ve faced and the importance of the job they were doing.

These experiences emphasised the essential role that care staff play, but also the fragility at the heart of the system. 

That is why it needs to be overhauled to ensure that everyone who uses the services receives the best possible care and that every care worker has the resources they need and the pay and conditions they deserve.

HeraldScotland:

We want to ensure that lived experience and the needs of staff and service users are put right at the heart of the system. We believe in an approach that puts people first and values the workers who have been on the front line of this pandemic.

As part of the co-operation agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government, my colleagues and I negotiated for the introduction of a fully funded National Care Service that will provide national support both for people accessing services and the workers delivering them.

This will ensure consistent and fair access to services, a rights-based, person-centred and user-led approach, and the abolition of non-residential social care charges. The consultation on the introduction of the service will begin in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, it is essential that we focus on improving the conditions of care workers and other workers throughout the system.

As we seek to help social care recover from the pandemic, we must prioritise workplace wellbeing. Some care workers may have been traumatised by their experiences and they must be able to access mental health support when they need it.

The increase in the minimum wage for adult social care staff to £10.50 is an initial step in improving pay, but we recognise that the work is far from over.

We will continue this work and deliver a pay level that recognises the incredible work that our care staff do every single day.

With Greens in government, we will build a National Care Service in which staff are properly valued and respected.

Gillian Mackay is Green MSP for Central Scotland region.