'Last August, a health select committee report highlighted exactly what is wrong with the fragmented nature of health care for elderly people under Tory policies. At present, a patient who is ill in hospital has free nursing care, while som eone with similar problems in a nursing home is means tested - a situation which can and does result in elderly people being forced to sell their homes.
'And means tested care is on the increase, because of a political decision to reduce the number of long-term NHS beds. The number of beds for geriatric patients, for example, has been cut by 12 per cent since 1991.
'This creates enormous insecurity for elderly people and family members, at their time of greatest need and vulnerability.
'Lifting means testing in Scotland for the residential care of elderly people would cost some£45m per annum at present levels, removing all but the minimal 'hotel charge', which is usually recovered from the state pension.
'This is a relatively small sum to pay for the dignity and security of elderly people, and is one of the key measures in the SNP's fully-costed general election manifesto. It is similar to the amount of money that Scotland is expected to contribute to the building and running of Trident nuclear weapons over the next four years.
'But in an independent Scotland, greatness will be measured by the quality of our public services - not by the possession of weapons of mass destruction.'
The SNP's candidate in West Renfrewshire, Colin Campbell added:
'While the Tories are responsible for creating the problems afflicting the health service, New Labour have no solutions. All that their manifesto offers is a Royal Commission on the long-term care of the elderly, which - as the saying goes - would take minutes and last years, while the misery continued.
'Scotland has a long and honourable tradition of supporting health services for all, and the very real concern expressed by the SNP and others is that a growing number of elderly people are being excluded from a service which they have paid for all their working lives.
'Both the Tories and New Labour are responsible for creating a spiral of decline and downward expectations in the UK.
'Only the SNP are saying 'Yes We Can' provide justice for the elderly, and only the SNP's vision of an independent Scotland offers practical policies that are best for the cohesiveness of Scottish society.'