HUNDREDS of care homes could close in Scotland if issues around the cost-of-living and NHS crises are not addressed, ministers have been warned.

Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, which represents private and charity run care homes, raised his concerns about the situation in homes across the country.

He predicted that up to 40 per cent of the 800 homes (320) could be forced to shut due to the current crisis across the health service.

Many homes are struggling to recruit staff as a result of pay, work pressure and investigations over Covid deaths in residential care. 

As result of a lack of beds in the sector many hospital patients, who are not acutely ill but need care support, cannot be discharged compounding problems in the health service.

Mr Macaskill told the BBC's Sunday Show: "Unless we address those issues we will not have a social care sector for older people in terms of residential care worth its name by next spring."

People falling ill to flu has also put added strain on services while elderly people could be forced to move home if problems are not addressed, according to Macaskill.

He added: "We have we have just over 800 care home as our members, the vast majority are small family run businesses. If you're part of a larger group, you're much more sustainable.

"We have estimated that between 30 and 40 per cent of that total, unless we address as you rightly say soaring energy costs, soaring food costs, workforce costs, not least agencies and a whole manifold range of real pressures, not least of which is spiralling numbers of people falling ill to the flu.

"Unless we address those issues we will not have a social care sector for older people in terms of residential care worth its name by next spring.

"The consequences first and foremost are the lives and the quality of life of some of our most important citizens are going to be profoundly impacted and affected.

"You do not want in your 90s having arrived at a place where you were finally able to be supported in your advanced dementia to be informed that you're going to have to move to a different place because that care home cannot sustain itself.

"We cannot allow in the midst of the current crisis, the quality care and provision of older people to be sacrificed simply because people are not attending to the real issues that are facing the sector."

Depute SNP leader and Justice Secretary Keith Brown described the situation in Scotland as "serious".

He said: "It's a serious situation, and I think that's been acknowledged by the health secretary. The priority now is to try and get a pay deal over the line to make sure we can keep people at work.

"The structure of the situation in the UK whereby the health consequentials very much relate to what the UK government's priority are mean that I think for years now we failed to match other European countries."