NEW national care standards must be put in place to ensure vulnerable people receive the best service possible, according to Labour.

The party’s equality spokeswoman, Jenny Marra has accused the Scottish Government of “dragging its heels” over a review of standards.

She said it was recommended by the Scottish Parliament Health Committee more than four years ago that the standards should be reviewed and a report is still awaited.

Currently there are 23 sets of standards and seven guiding principles governing health and care standards: Dignity; Privacy; Choice; Safety; Realising Potential; Equality and Diversity.

The Committee recommended a review because the standards were more than ten years old and should be updated.

Ms Marra said the new standards were not expected until 2017, which she said was too long.

She said: “Social care has moved on light years since the care standards were published 13 years ago. After nearly nine years in power and with a majority in parliament there is no excuse for the SNP Government not to have updated care standards sooner.

"The SNP say that social care is one of their highest priorities but despite being told to do so, they have delayed and delayed publishing new modern standards for social care that people should expect.”

The SNP Scottish government set up a review in 2013 meaning it will be at least four years before its recommendations are acted on.

Ms Marra, added: “Now more than ever we need a health service ready to face the challenges of the coming decades, with staff given the support, resources and guidance to give the best possible quality of care to patients. These standards should be published as soon as possible in the New Year."

The standards govern care in hospital or a care home designed to ensure everyone receives the same level and quality of care.

Watchdogs covering the sectors, the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland, conduct inspections, to check that healthcare services meet the standards.

In its report following the inquiry into the regulation of care of older people, the Health Committee called on the Scottish Government to review the standards in 2011 because at that time they were over ten years old.

In its response to the committee’s inquiry published in February 2012 the Scottish Government accepted the recommendation.