By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrats today warned that SNP ministers must be up front with people about the steps it is taking to respond to the mental health crisis after SNP ministers were ordered by the Information Commissioner to publish mental health staff recruitment reports which have been kept secret for two years.
The party first asked the government in 2019 for the reports the government had collected on how it was progressing with Action 15 of the Mental Health Strategy – a plan to fund and recruit 800 additional mental health workers in key settings.
These requests were submitted amidst concerns that the government were ‘diluting’ their commitment, as many of the professionals recruited so far are allocated to unidentifiable ‘Other Settings’.
Ministers argued against the release of recruitment projections, including detail about where staff will be located and the roles being recruited, for two years. However, the Information Commissioner has now concluded withholding this information is a breach of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and has ordered its disclosure.
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, pictured right, commented: “Scottish Liberal Democrats won the commitment to put 800 new mental health staff in A&Es, GP surgeries, prisons and alongside the police. It’s a flagship commitment of the Mental Health Strategy.
“The public and Parliament have a right to see how this is progressing, where they will be located and what they are doing. It shouldn’t need a two year battle, forcing Scottish Liberal Democrats to go all the way to the Information Commissioner to find out how £35 million is actually being spent.
“I am determined to see many more mental health staff recruited in this new Parliament. It is a top priority. The Scottish Government needs to work with others and be open about progress. Otherwise it will be impossible to know whether the government’s promises are making the difference that we need them to.”
Top picture: Gartnavel Royal Mental Hospital in Glasgow.