Ash Regan will “immediately pause” controversial plans by the SNP government to roll out a national care service if she becomes the next first minister.

The former government minister, who is one of three candidates to so far put themselves forward to replace Nicola Sturgeon, said she will listen to the vast number of concerns raised about the policy and halt the plans.

She stressed that she remains entirely committed to the proposal to centralise adult social care, but wants it to be co-designed with all the key stakeholders involved.

Unions, opposition parties and umbrella organisation for Scottish councils, Cosla, oppose the plans for centralisation

Read more: Kate Forbes: I would have voted against equal marriage

She said: “If I am elected to become First Minister I will immediately pause the legislation for a national care service.

“I am 100 per cent committed to this groundbreaking policy but it must create a care service worthy of the name. That means it must be led by care experts, respect local government be delivered locally and provide a universal service for all Scots who need it.

"As first minister I want to be known for listening, and anyone who is listening knows that these proposals as the stand do not have the support of the frontline staff who have to deliver."

Ms Regan stressed the Scottish Government "can't make policy based on what a firm of accountants tell us to do if the frontline staff are as strongly opposed as they are".

She said: "I will never treat those who go to work every day to deliver public services as an afterthought.

Read more: Yousaf blasts Forbes: 'I don't use my faith as basis of legislation'

"If I am elected the legislation will be paused and I will bring together all the organisations which have to deliver this service and organisations which represent those who receive those services and begin a proper co-design process."

Ms Regan insisted that she was "determined that we build a national care service of ambition".

She added: "I am determined that it is one that everyone who works for it and everyone who is served by it can be proud off.

Read more: Ash Regan lashes out at Nicola Sturgeon's oil and gas strategy

"To do that we have to recognise that the proposals on the table do not have support. So let's get it right by taking a moment to engage everyone in its design.

"I want everyone to know that I am listening. On the national care service I want them to know that I can hear their concerns loud and clear and that I will act decisively to address them.

"I believe that listening is at the heart of good government, and I am determined to run a good government.”

Opponents have already called for the next first minister to scrap the national care service plans.

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s failed national care service bill is a toxic and damaging piece of legislation that her successors must run a mile from.

“What is being offered is nothing more than a national centralisation service which will do nothing to support care receivers or the workforce.

“Workers don’t want it, care providers don’t want it, experts have raised the alarm and parliamentary committee after committee have demanded that the bill be paused.

“Not a single penny of the estimated £1bn required to create the service will go to providing care. Instead of wasting money the SNP should plough funding into care packages and to social care pay. That would overnight transform people’s experience of social care.

“SNP leadership candidates need to put common sense before the pride of the outgoing First Minister."