Alex Cole-Hamilton: ‘NHS problems caused by neglect of care services by SNP’

The pandemic has shown how dependent we are on care services and the people who work there.

However, they are under pressure like never before. The staff is exhausted.

Two years of the virus and 15 years of SNP mismanagement are each taking their toll.

So many problems in our NHS can be traced to neglected care services.

In March 2022 alone, 53,600 days were spent in hospital by people who were ready to go home but were waiting for social care packages to be put in place. This has a ripple effect on operations, hospital stays, and even A&E.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have a rich history of investing in Scotland’s health, introducing free dental and eye checks, free personal care and recently winning an extra £120million for mental health. Now we want to do the same for social care.

Caring for others can be a valuable and rewarding career, but at the moment the pay, conditions and opportunities for personal development are not where they need to be to attract the workforce Scotland needs .

That’s why I want the Scottish Government to set national standards for pay and working conditions and provide the funds to implement them.

Too often, narrow task-based contracts prevent caregivers from building rapport and trust with care users.

The Scottish Government’s own proposals are a fraudulent attempt to draw the wool over the eyes of care users and social workers.

Although they may present their plans as a “national care service” to mirror the national health service, in reality their plans amount to allowing ministers to dictate care services, with less local control and no attempt to make services free at the point of use.

It would be a dreadful idea to permanently entrust the services to the same ministers who were in charge of sending untested and Covid-positive patients to nursing homes at the start of the pandemic.

A takeover will repeat Police Scotland’s costly mistakes and loss of local innovation.

This is why the Scottish Liberal Democrats believe the focus should be on improving the quality of care for users and on being quick to reward staff with better pay, conditions and career progression instead of delaying while new organizations siphon off frontline resources.

I want to see high quality, flexible, locally managed care services and community care built around individual needs and choices.

Throughout the pandemic, Scotland’s Liberal Democrats have fought for care home residents. Now we must build a welfare service worthy of all who work in it and depend on it.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.