Nicola Sturgeon has announced a review of adult social care with the aim of creating a National Care Service in Scotland.
The First Minister said the service could be a “lasting and positive legacy” from the coronavirus crisis.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs during her Programme for Government speech that the pandemic has “underlined the need for improvement and reform” of the care sector and the Government needed to be “bold” to improve the system.
She said: “The quality of adult social care is something that matters deeply to us all. This is a moment to be bold and to build a service fit for the future.
“The National Health Service was born out of the tragedy of World War Two.
“Let us resolve that we will build out of this Covid-19 crisis the lasting and positive legacy of a high-quality National Care Service.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is expected to reveal more details about the Government’s plans later on Tuesday, but Ms Sturgeon said an immediate review of the care system had been launched and would produce its first report by January.
She added: “The pandemic has reminded us of the vital importance of social care services, and of the extraordinary professionalism, dedication and compassion of those who work in that sector.
“However, it has also underlined the need for improvement and reform.
“I can therefore announce today the immediate establishment of a comprehensive independent review of adult social care.
“The review will seek the views of those with direct experience of adult social care, and make recommendations for immediate improvements.
“However, more fundamentally, it will examine and set out options for the creation of a National Care Service.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who has been campaigning for the creation of a National Care Service, said: “Over the past six months, no part of our society has been more tragically hit by Covid-19 than our care homes.
“Today’s announcement of a review is a welcome signal of intent. But time is running out.
“Will the First Minister take the opportunity today to confirm not only that she intends to create a National Care Service, but that she will act immediately to level up the terms and conditions of the workforce, and that, as with our National Health Service, the profit motive will be removed from the care of our oldest and most vulnerable citizens?
“Because we cannot simply be content to go back to how things were in the care sector.”