New figures show glaring gaps in mental health provision 

By Lucy Ashton

Updated at 15.15pm

Following the release of new figures which show that 17 per cent of GP practices provide no access to mental health workers or support, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has criticised the government for failing to act on commitments to increase mental health support.

The Scottish Government’s Primary Care Improvement Plans reveals that:    

  • 17% of GP practices in Scotland have no access to mental health workers or support.
  • No GP practices in Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire, Moray and the Western Isles provide any access to mental health workers or support.
  • There is no access to mental health workers or support in more than half of GP practices in Edinburgh, Renfrewshire and the Orkney Islands.

In the 2021/2022 Programme for Government, the government committed to installing a mental health and well-being service in every GP practice by 2026.

Scottish Liberal Democrats previously accused the government of inflating mental health recruitment figures after they failed to meet a commitment to recruit 800 extra mental health workers in four key settings, including in every GP practice.

Mr Cole-Hamilton, pictured right,  said:  “It’s extremely worrying to see such glaring gaps in mental health provision. Poor mental health prevents people from getting on with their life, but this government can only offer a carousel of missed commitments, empty words and devastating cuts to the mental health budget.

“It’s absolutely crucial that people can access mental health support when they need it. Scottish Liberal Democrats would roll out mental health first aiders and more mental health professionals in GP surgeries across the country, as well as in schools and A&E departments.

“We need a properly-funded, world-beating system that will combat our mental health emergency.”

Meanwhile, at a UK level, a national safety body will be tasked with investigating mental health scandals across the country – prompted by The Independent’s reporting on deaths and abuse of vulnerable patients.

Announcing the investigation with a “wide-ranging” brief on mental health care, health secretary Steve Barclay praised The Independent’s reporting for “raising awareness” of scandals at units across the country.

The cabinet minister said that the Health and Safety Investigation Branch would look into the care of young people, examine staffing levels and scrutinise quality of care within units.

Top of page:  Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow, which serves West Dunbartonshire.

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