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Health and social care

The virus has shown how much we need and value health and care services and the people who work in them. However, they are under pressure like never before. Staff are exhausted. Waiting lists are painfully long including for mental health support and operations. There are record numbers of vacancies. Two years of the virus and 15 years of SNP mismanagement are each taking their toll.

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 £120 million more for mental health.

Now we will work in partnership to:

  • Make local authorities mental health champions.
  • Set an ambition to give every local authority workplace the benefits of a mental health first aider, capable of providing peer support and identifying signs of ill health among colleagues.
  • Ensure education services have the resources to identify young people with mental health problems and help get them early support.
  • Support a preventative approach with more counsellors available for schools.
  • Participate in the wider system of mental health support to guarantee that there is no wrong door for accessing services and waiting times are drastically reduced.
  • Support all staff to take a trauma-informed approach in their work.
  • Campaign for more mental health practitioners for key local settings such as GP surgeries and alongside the police.
  • Support stronger local health services so that people can get the care they need closer to home.
  • Back calls for new support for the sufferers of long Covid who have been overlooked by the Scottish Government, including specialist clinics and in-home support.
  • Support voluntary groups that help people tackle loneliness and isolation.
  • Signpost GPs and other health professionals to third sector organisations and council services capable of supporting their patients.
  • Promote steps to treat drug misuse with compassion and treatment to stop people dying, in addition to providing effective support for needs including housing and employment.

We support the recommendation of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care that there should be a step change in social care with the resources to support it. However, we will resist the ministerial takeover of care services. It was the same Scottish Government ministers who were responsible for sending untested and covid-positive patients into care homes at the start of the pandemic. A takeover risks repeating the expensive mistakes of Police Scotland and the loss of local innovation.

Instead, we will drive up the quality of care for users and move quickly to reward staff with better pay, conditions and career progression.

For people requiring care we will:

  • Deliver high quality, flexible and locally-run care services and community care built around individual needs and choices.
  • Recognise the right of every person to personalised care.
  • Champion preventative approaches.
  • Provide companionship and the opportunity for stimulating activities.
  • Involve disabled people and other care users in local commissioning so it is informed by local experience of unmet need.
  • Review the mix of provision available to people requiring care and support including modern sheltered housing, community care hubs, meal provision, community links and models of independent living for younger adults.
  • Modernise day centre provision.
  • Ensure that the relatives of care home residents are able to have full and meaningful contact with their loved ones.

For care staff, Scottish Liberal Democrats will:

  • Prioritise the establishment of powerful national bargaining with the Scottish Government funding required to deliver on fair work standards for staff.
  • Respect the social care workforce for the work they do and require care service providers to comply with fair work standards.
  • Allow carers to build relationships and trust with care users, moving away from narrow task-based contracts.
  • Implement change as soon as possible, instead of delaying while new organisations are created by SNP ministers which would siphon resources from the frontline.