Mental Health Service (Staffing)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 25th February 2021.

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Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

6. To ask the Scottish Government how many new staff will be required to meet the mental health needs of people following the Covid-19 pandemic. (S5O-05062)

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

Our transition and recovery plan lays out the actions that are designed to support mental health needs across Scotland. It includes a commitment to develop a renewal programme for mental health services and to undertake an assessment of future workforce needs. Additionally, we are working with national health service boards to assess the impact of Covid-19 on mental health services. That includes anticipatory workforce planning, which boards are considering as part of their wider plans to remobilise services.

That builds on our prior work in publishing, in December 2019, the first integrated national health and social care workforce plan in the United Kingdom. The plan sets out how health and social care services will meet growing demand and how we will ensure that we have the right numbers of staff with the right skills across health and social care services.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

Bearing in mind that, prior to the pandemic, the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland had reported serious recruitment gaps in specialist mental health services, which is coupled with a recent poll suggesting that more than one in four people believe that the pandemic will have a damaging effect on their mental health, will the minister pledge to provide the resources that are needed to address the issue through well-staffed services in the short and long term?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

Mental health is and will continue to be an absolute priority for the Government. Last week, we announced £120 million for the mental health recovery and renewal fund, which is the single largest investment in mental health in the history of devolution. That is in addition to the £142.1 million that had already been allocated to mental health in the 2021-22 budget. Our recovery and renewal fund will ensure the delivery of the mental health plan that we published in October last year, which, as I mentioned, includes a commitment to undertake an assessment of future workforce needs as part of our renewal programme for mental health services.

I am happy to provide the member with information about the additional recruitment that has been done under the Government. I will continue to work closely with the Royal College of Psychiatrists to discuss its concerns about the mental health services workforce and in relation to the choose psychiatry programme.

Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

How is the Government working with third sector community mental health services, including those across Dumfries and Galloway, to provide greater access in local settings and to signpost people to mental health services that are close to their communities?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government financially supports a wide range of third sector organisations that contribute to its improvement agenda for mental health and wellbeing. We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a substantial impact on the mental health of the population, and our transition and recovery plan recognises the role of the third sector in the delivery of our mental health ambitions. Specifically, we will ensure that third sector organisations are among our core strategic partners for the development and implementation of the actions in the plan. In the light of the new challenges that third sector organisations face, we will continue to work in partnership with the sector at strategic and operational levels.