The Scottish Government is taking the necessary steps to fund social care and support both the people receiving care and those delivering it.

By the end of this parliament we will have invested over £800 million of increased annual support for social care compared to current spending.

In addition, we continue to provide NHS Boards and Integration Authorities with the funding they require to meet the cost of responding to the pandemic, which comes on top of the £1.7 billion already provided to Health Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships in 2020-21.

Creating a National Care Service (NCS) will be the most ambitious reform of public services since the creation of the NHS.

Change is needed to improve the consistency and quality of support and care for people and to end the postcode lottery of care provision in Scotland.

Even before the pandemic, we knew that we needed to change how social care is delivered as people are living longer and technological advances in medicine have been made.

Our ambition for the NCS is to create a comprehensive community health and social care service that supports individuals and families, with smooth transitions between different categories of care.

HeraldScotland:

We can do that by moving our focus from process and funding to supporting people to live the way they want to, with choices about their care.

We can lead by example and build a service that puts human rights at the heart of it.

One that is designed around the needs of those who use and deliver social care services, providing what people need, in a way that they want and with respect and dignity.

We aren’t waiting until the NCS to start to change.

The removal of non-residential social care charging, greater support for unpaid carers, improving delivery of Self Directed Support and raising the hourly pay of social care workers to the highest level in the UK has already strengthened our services.

As well as reflecting the ambitions of the people using care services, we have to put in place proper support for the staff providing that care.

We have introduced a living wage for care workers and taken steps to tackle pressures on the workforce by supporting the recruitment of more staff and with partners have developed a national induction programme for new entrants to Adult Social Care.

The real experts who will help us design the National Care Service will be people with l experience of it – involving them in shaping future services and making things better for everyone.

Our plans are bold and ambitious and I am under no illusion of the work still needed to deliver them, but I do feel that there is a shared belief that we can do better and a willingness to work towards it.

Kevin Stewart is Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care.