THE Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for reform of Scotland’s fragmented care system.

We all know that after the Second World War, the Labour Party created our National Health Service. Looking back now it seems obvious that this was essential.

We are in a similar position now with social care and Scottish Labour will fight the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2021 on a pledge to create a National Care Service.

It’s now time to care about care.

The current care system in Scotland is broken. The SNP has been in charge for 13 years and has failed to give social care the priority it deserves.

The vast majority of care homes in Scotland are run for profit. They are businesses. Stop and think about that for a moment: it seems ludicrous. We don’t operate our hospitals for profit, so why leave the care of our most vulnerable relatives to profit making organisations?

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Social care is a lottery in Scotland, with some excellent homes run by charities or local authorities, but we know this is not always the case.

Most local authorities in Scotland don’t run care homes. The Labour Party in West Dunbartonshire took the decision during the last council administration to build and operate our new state of the art care homes in Clydebank and Dumbarton – a decision which was forward thinking and fits perfectly with Scottish Labour’s vision for a National Care Service.

Scottish care home residents deserve dignity, respect and the best possible care which the state can provide and I believe this is the experience of West Dunbartonshire care home residents thanks to our incredible social care staff.

But again, this is not always the case across Scotland, with hard-working under-paid social care workers experiencing terrible working conditions despite being at the front line of care and especially during this pandemic.

So many of us have personal experiences of the care sector, good and bad, and Scottish Labour have launched a consultation with the Scottish public about how to create a National Care Service.

We want to hear from families, workers, trade unions and care experts to develop a radical blueprint for the National Care Service – a service for those who require full-time residential care, but also national standards for those who require ongoing care to continue to live with dignity in their own homes.

May 2021 should not be an election fought on the constitution between the separatists on one side and the unionists on the other. Instead, back Labour, as we did in 1945, and help create the National Care Service Scotland deserves.