Yousaf urged to act as analysis shows drop in mental health spending

The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland said spending on mental health reduced from 9.12% of the NHS budget in 2011/12 to 8.78% in 2021/22.

Humza Yousaf urged to act as analysis shows drop in Scotland’s NHS mental health spending PA Media

Psychiatrists have written to the First Minister with serious concerns over mental health funding in Scotland after analysis revealed spending is lower than it was a decade ago.

Research from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland revealed mental health services receive a smaller share of the NHS budget than they did a decade ago.

Using Public Health Scotland data, the body found frontline NHS spend on mental health reduced from 9.12% of the budget in 2011/12 to 8.78% in 2021/22.

At the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, the SNP pledged to spend at least 10% of the frontline NHS budget on mental health.

The letter to Humza Yousaf said: “As a college, we have serious concerns around the funding of mental health services in Scotland.

“We supported the mental health spending commitments in the Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party’s shared policy programme.

“In particular, we welcomed the commitment to ‘increase spending on mental health services to 10% of the total frontline NHS budget by the end of this parliamentary session’.”

The letter also warned mental health staff face “incredible pressure”, and that redirecting resources such as mental health workers into acute services cannot become a regular habit.

It added: “If the workforce is not to be completely overwhelmed, it is essential that Government now honours its spending commitment.”

Dr Pavan Srireddy, policy lead at the college, said: “We have written to Humza Yousaf asking him to honour the commitment made more than two years ago to ensure mental health services received the funding they deserve and so desperately need – however despite promises we’ve not seen this come to fruition.

“Funding for mental health and physical health should be prioritised equally.

“What we face is a mental health emergency with demand only set to soar due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

“We also need the workforce in place to keep up with that projected increase in more patients seeking treatment.

“We’re seeking clarification now on how the Scottish Government plans to divvy up this money.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The SNP/Green commitment to mental health is utterly shallow.

“Mental health services were swamped before the pandemic. On top of that have been added the long shadow of lockdown.

“Waiting time targets have never been met since they were introduced in December 2014, leaving thousands to struggle in pain.

Mental wellbeing minister Maree Todd said: “Direct Scottish Government investment in mental health has more than doubled since 2020/21.

“We’re determined to go further and will continue to work with the NHS to invest in growing the workforce and seek further improvements.

“There is currently a record number of mental health staff in our NHS, who have more than doubled in number under this Government. This has enabled our NHS to support more people than ever before.”

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