Nicola Sturgeon has pledged that setting up a new National Care Service will be one of the first acts her government takes if the SNP is re-elected to power.
The First Minister praised all those working in health and social care for their “dedication and professionalism” throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
She promised if her SNP win May’s Scottish election, one of the new government’s first acts will be to “take the first formal steps to create a National Care Service”.
She also pledged her party would abolish charges for non-residential care, so that the “right to independent living” can be “afforded to all”.
The SNP leader made the commitments as she addressed a conference staged by local government leaders at Cosla.
She said: “In these dark times our frontline health and social care staff have left us again in awe with their dedication and their professionalism, even in the most trying of circumstances.
“To deliver the best possible care – in every part of Scotland – we must collectively be really bold.
“That’s why, if re-elected, one of our first acts will be to take the first formal steps to create a National Care Service.”
She insisted: “Delivering a National Care Service will make a real difference both to those who receive care, but also to those who care for them with such dedication.”
The SNP is promising a “National Wage for carers, to ensure that the value of the wages of our social care workforce better reflects the value of the work that they do”.
Ms Sturgeon continued: “And we will abolish charges for non-residential care – easing the financial pressures on people accessing care and helping them to realise the right to independent living that should be afforded to all.”
She accepted this was an “ambitious agenda” but added: “With open minds and with a spirit of genuine collaboration, I know that we can achieve something which will fundamentally transform the way we care for those who need it most.
“And in doing so, we will properly recognise the value of care, and the role women in particular play in delivering care at all levels of our society.”