I’m calling for a national guarantee for care workers in Mid Scotland and Fife that will see all workers paid the living wage and an end to exploitative zero hour contracts.
With an aging population and patients suffering from complex and multiple conditions, social care will be one of the biggest challenges facing the health service in the years ahead.
The easiest thing to do would be to continue a sticker plaster approach to health and social care in Scotland but we must meet this challenge head on.
As a result of the Chancellors spending review carried out last month, the Scottish Parliament will receive health consequentials of around £400 million.
I joined colleagues in the Scottish Parliament in putting forward proposals for using the majority of extra revenue to invest in social care.
We need to ensure that we have a health service that is fit for the future and meets the health needs of Scots in the years ahead.
That is why Labour commissioned a report that doesn’t just analyse the problems but also brings forward credible and sensible solutions. The report was written by health professionals, academics, trade union representatives and care users in Scotland.
Following the publication of the report we have brought forward proposals for a national guarantee that will result in every care worker being paid the living wage, an end to zero hour contacts, appropriate training for staff in the industry and assurances that they are paid for travel costs and travel time.
The more people that our health service can care for in the comfort of their own homes the better it is for everyone. It relieves pressures on our hospitals particularly by driving down instances of bed blocking.
It also gives patients the dignity of care in their own home, helping keep people closer to their families and local community network.
The policy would give a pay rise to all care workers whilst at the same time lessening the burden on the NHS in Mid Scotland and Fife.
A living wage and an end to zero hour contracts also give care workers security in their own employment and will keep more workers in an industry that often struggles to fill posts.
The commission’s report has a number of recommendations that I hope politicians from all parties can sign up to and join me in working towards a better care system in Scotland.