A LOCAL politician has warned that the Scottish Government must "act now" to tackle the crisis facing the country's social care sector.

It comes after figures have revealed "spiralling" wait times for community care assessments to be completed.

Reacting to the news, Jackie Ballie MSP has warned more must be done before the sector reaches breaking point.

According to the MSP, in 2023, two-thirds of adults (aged 18 to 64) in West Dunbartonshire waited more than the government's target of six weeks between first contact and completion of a community care assessment.

On top of that, there was also a 14% increase in the proportion of new clients with "critical" needs aged over 65 waiting for more than six weeks between first contact and completion of a community care assessment in the area.

The local MSP has now warned of a "ticking time bomb".

Jackie Ballie said: “We are facing a ticking time bomb when it comes to social care, and it is Scotland’s most vulnerable who are paying the price.

“For months now the SNP have ignored calls to tackle Scotland’s social care crisis and even raided funding from Health and Social Care partnerships, and things are only getting worse.

“Vulnerable patients are missing out on the care they need because the underfunded and overworked sector cannot keep up with demand and the picture in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute is getting progressively worse.

“The SNP must act now to tackle the problems facing social care, starting by delivering fair pay for social care staff and putting an end to delayed discharge.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are working hard with health boards and health and social care partnerships to create the necessary capacity to deal with emerging pressures through our Delayed Discharge and Hospital Occupancy Action Plan to ensure patients are assessed and discharged with the appropriate care package as quickly as possible.”

“This, along with increasing Social Care Support from Home funding and pay rises for social care support staff to help deal with the consequences of reduced staffing because of Brexit, the pandemic, and rising costs of energy and inflation, underscores how invaluable our health care and adult social care support staff are to all who require additional support to live independently at home or in the community and we would like to thank them for their continued hard work.”