My office has been receiving a lot of enquiries over the last week about the new fire alarms that by law are to be fitted in every house in the country.

Those who need help are finding it very difficult to access that help and whilst the government have made financial support available being able to access that support is difficult. I am working on this.

Statistics published this week on what is called bed blocking shows that there were 1,664 beds in hospitals in Scotland occupied by a patient who is clinically ready to leave hospital but are unable to be discharged.

In the majority of cases this comes down to the fact the individuals cannot get a care package to support them to come home.

This is heart-breaking for those people trapped in hospital and it does not stop there as thousands more who live in the community and have been assessed as needing care are also on waiting lists to get that care. On top of this many hundreds in Fife are also having their care support cut.

I continue to raise these issues in parliament where I have pointed to the unequal pay and terms and conditions of care workers across the sectors. In Fife there is a split with 40% of care being delivered direct by Fife Council and 60% being delivered through private companies contracted by the council. If the carer works for the council, they will be paid the council rate for the job and will be paid for their time when travelling between clients as well as a milage allowance of 45p, sick pay and holidays and a council pension. Those working for the private companies are in the main not paid for travelling time so only get paid for the hours they are actually with the client in their home, so you can have a carer working 8 hours but only being paid for 5 or 6 dependent on the amount of travel required. Private companies also pay lower wages based on the national care pay minimum.

This is a major factor contributing to companies struggling to recruit and retain workers in this very difficult and challenging job. I have tabled a motion to secure a debate on the issue but to date neither the SNP, Tories nor Green MSPs have been willing to sign the motion. Burying their heads in the sand will not fix this issue that is causing real worry and harm to older people across Fife.