Labour want mental health workers in every GP surgery

Party launches campaign with vow to put 'life-saving' mental health workers in every practice.

Labour want mental health workers in every GP surgery Getty Images

Scottish Labour is unveiling plans for “life-saving” mental health workers in every GP practice as part of a recovery plan for Scotland’s NHS.

Party leader Anas Sarwar is set to announce the policy on Monday, as part of a national recovery plan for the NHS which will be published at the party’s campaign launch.

The move follows calls from the Royal College of General Practitioners for the Scottish Government to commit to transforming mental health with more focus on the use of mental health clinicians in primary care teams.

Sarwar said: “We can’t come through the collective trauma of Covid and go back to a system which fails people in need of lifesaving mental health support.

“This election must be about delivering a national recovery plan that at its heart is about restoring our NHS.

“I am putting improving access to mental health treatment front and centre of our plan – and it starts by putting vital mental health support workers in every GP clinic in Scotland.

“This one change could save countless lives – and help others begin the process of rebuilding their mental health after the pandemic.

“To do this we need a parliament focused on solutions, not divisions, so that we can build a stronger recovery for a fairer Scotland.”

A recent study by the Mental Health Foundation found 13% experienced distressing emotions last month – up from 10% during the first lockdown last April.

It also identified a rise in those suffering loneliness and feelings of hopelessness in the past year.

Scottish Labour has previously said that nearly 25,000 calls to Scotland’s mental health crisis support line went unanswered during the course of the pandemic.

A Freedom of Information request showed that 133 calls went unanswered in March of last year, but in January the number was 5452.

Over the course of the pandemic, figures show 24,947 calls have gone unanswered.

An SNP spokesman said: “During the past year there has been an immense strain on our mental health and on our mental health services.

“It will be vital for our recovery out of lockdown that we have robust mental services and the SNP has recognised that by committing a record £16bn to the health budget, which includes an overall investment of £1.1bn in mental health overall.

“We recognise the role GP surgeries can play in supporting mental health and will set out proposals in our manifesto.”

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