Adult social care staff will see their pay rise to more than £10 per hour as part of a £300m plan to help the health and care sector through the winter.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced the move on Tuesday, claiming it was the biggest package of measures for the sector since devolution.
Some £48m will be invested to provide a pay rise for social care staff to £10.02 per hour.
As part of the announcement, 1000 more healthcare support staff for hospitals and community health teams will be recruited, at a cost of £15m.
A further £62m will be invested to enhance capacity in care at home provision, £40m for temporary care home stays for patients and £28m for primary care services.
Meanwhile, £20m will be made available to allow for more social work assessments and better bridge the gap between health and social care, and £4.5m will be put in to help health boards recruit 200 registered nurses from abroad by March next year.
Yousaf told MSPs the effects of the pandemic on the health service were “likely to get worse” and social care was “dealing with the same level of pressure”.
“It is for this reason I am announcing the most significant package of measures and investment since the advent of devolution to assist our NHS and social care services with winter pressures,” he said.
“The total package of measures I will be announcing today amounts to over £300m additional investment in our NHS and social care services this year.”
He added: “A further underlying reason for some of the challenges we face providing social care support in the community is undoubtedly staff pay, terms and conditions.
“Today, I can therefore announce additional funding of £48m that will be made available to enable employers to provide an uplift to the hourly rate of pay for staff offering direct care within adult social care.
“This means the hourly rate will rise to a minimum of £10.02 per hour. This demonstrates a significant step towards a continued commitment to deliver fair work in the sector.”
Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the announcements “feel like a sticking plaster for a much more profound problem” and said the pay rise for social care staff was “insufficient”.
She added: “Working at the checkout at Aldi pays more, you will not retain or recruit staff if you continue to pay them low wages.
“So when will the pay rise start and when will the Cabinet Secretary pay social care staff the £15 per hour they so richly deserve?”
Yousaf replied: “In terms of £15 per hour, Ms Baillie will have to come up with where we would source the funding, which – on a recurring basis – would be many hundreds of millions, in future years.”
Baillie’s view was echoed by Louise Gilmour, the secretary of GMB Scotland, who said: “If we want to tackle the understaffing crisis in social care then we need to substantially increase the basic rate of pay, and for GMB that means a £15 an hour minimum.
“Many of our frontline services are already being delivered on the back of wages of just under or over £10 an hour, and we know this isn’t nearly enough.
“To transform social care for the people who need it and the people who deliver it, particularly as we roll out a national care service, then we must go further.”
As a result of the investment, Yousaf said he would expect an increase in face-to-face consultations for those visiting their GP.