Scottish Labor Party conference: Anas Sarwar focuses on future of NHS and social care ahead of May Council elections


Mr Sarwar is expected to announce that Scottish Labor will deliver free residential care for all over-65s in Scotland if the party is elected.

The plans will see almost 10,000 care home residents provided with free care at a cost of more than £400 million, while also plugging the funding gap in non-residential social care.

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He told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Friday: “Why is it okay if someone has a health condition in their middle ages they can expect to get treatment for free but when someone has dementia in their older age, they are expected to pay for the care they receive?

Scottish Labor Leader Anas Sarwar said he wants to bring Scottish Labor “into the future” (Photo: Andrew Milligan, PA).

“That’s not acceptable and I think the next stage of our big social policy and big social change in Scotland has to be creating a national care service based on NHS principles [from cradle to grave].”

“It would cost over a £1 billion to deliver but we are expecting over £2 billion of health and social care consequences in the coming years.”

At the party conference in Glasgow, Mr Sarwar said he would focus on the future of the NHS and social care and ensure the needs of young people are met in a digital age.

The Scottish Government has proposed a national care service by 2026 which would be accountable for social care support instead of councils.

However, Mr Sarwar insisted that Labour’s plans are “fundamentally different”.

He said: “They are proposing a national care service in name, I want to deliver it in function.”

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Anas Sarwar to launch £1.3bn Labor plans for free residential care for over-65s

A re-branding of the party’s logo, replacing the red rose with a thistle, is also to be revealed by Mr Sarwar at the conference.

Mr Sarwar said: “Not a single person is going to change their vote based on a logo.

“That’s not what this is about.

“It’s about changing a culture and making sure we’re bringing the Labor Party into the 21st century and make sure we’re focused on the future.

“I think it’s important to be distinctly Scottish but also proudly and passionately Labour.”

Mr reiterated that the party had been “hollowed out” and he wants to “root the party in the future”.

“I don’t think we were a fit for purpose political organisation.” Mr Sarwar said. “We’ve done the hard work, we’ve got our party where it needs to be in terms of a fit, functioning political party and organisation.

“The challenge now is to reach out to people, get out of our comfort zone, talk to people who don’t agree with us but win them over with the ideas and energy I think Scotland deserves.”

As May’s council elections fast approach, Mr Sarwar said he did not think an independence referendum would be “good” for Scotland in the midst of a panic and he wants to persuade people “there is a better alternative”.

He said: “It’s not a light switch moment. It means the attention, the energy, the resources of our country going into an argument.

“I want Scots to go back to working with each other and make Scotland fit for the future.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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