COVID-19: information for psychiatrists in Scotland

Explore our most up to date guidance and information for psychiatrists working in Scotland. 

How to use our guidance

The RCPsych has created a fast-evolving hub of COVID-19 information designed for clinicians.  This guidance has been written from a broad UK perspective and will be, for the most part, applicable across the UK, and the College is asking its members in Scotland to adhere to this guidance where possible.

This page contains references to key Scottish resources, external guidance and a glossary of terms, to complement the UK guidance.

Key Principles

  • Mental health professionals, as with other healthcare workers, may find themselves having to make very difficult decisions during this time. Practitioners should continue to adhere to their own and Good Medical Practice values; and it is essential that they know that in doing so, they have the full support of the Chief Medical Officer, Regulatory Bodies, and the Royal College.
  • This guidance provides a set of universally applicable instructions for mental health professionals, however, local Health Board and Health and Social Care Partnership guidance must also be adhered to.
  • Practitioners should continue to do their utmost to adhere to human rights principles and those of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003. Circumstances may arise which prove a challenge to the normal practice of adherence to these principles, in such incidences practitioners should act with proportionality and with Good Medical Practice values.
  • Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is updated regularly, however, practitioners must also refer to Health Protection Scotland for regular updates, as PPE guidance will continue to evolve. Scottish Government have introduced new measures to improve the distribution of PPE, including a point of contact for all health boards to manage local PPE supply and distribution, and an email address for NHS staff to contact if they do not have what they need is It will be monitored continuously.


Please note that some of the terms used in the RCPsych’s guidance are aimed at members in England and Wales and are not applicable to Scotland. For instance, references to Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups should be interpreted as Health Boards.

Please note that the use of Local resilience forums and Health Protection teams (HPT) are not applicable to Scottish Psychiatry and Mental Health. If you see a link to Public Health England, please refer to Health Protection Scotland.

Scottish Specific Guidance

Whilst the UK guidance should be relevant and of use to practitioners across the UK, please find below some exceptions and considerations specific to the Scottish health care system. This will be updated regularly.

Please see the latest message from MHTS regarding teleconferencing (16 April 2020):

This is now our fourth week of holding hearings by teleconference. We are grateful to everyone who has participated so far for showing such flexibility. 

The purpose of this message is to address the issue of reports and other documents which arrive ‘late’ for hearings.  In normal (pre and, we hope, post COVID) circumstances, clerks are able to print out anything like this and distribute copies at the hearing. With teleconferencing, such material arriving on the day of the hearing, or the day before, raises issues of communication with the patient and possibly their named person too. It is not possible to distribute a report at the hearing, it is too late to post such material out and it is also unlikely that we can distribute it by email.

MHTS administration is under pressure owing to COVID-19 related absence. We would therefore ask that if, unavoidably, a report is being sent at short notice (less than three working days before a hearing) the sender ensures that a copy is sent to the patient and named person (or any other relevant person) at the same time, advising MHTS that this has been done. We would be most grateful for this assistance with communication. This should also minimise the chance that a hearing will require to be adjourned because participants have not had sight of relevant material.

If a document which a party wishes to rely on must be submitted less than 24 hours before a hearing, please note the following:

  1. If the document doesn’t come from the patient themselves, please endeavour to provide a copy to the patient and, if applicable, named person – intimate it to them by whatever means is appropriate, at the same time as it is submitted to the Tribunal. This may be done by personal delivery, either to a home address or to a ward, for example.
  2. Email a copy to any parties with secure email addresses; send an email to parties with non-secure email addresses saying only that there is a late report for the hearing in which they are involved on  X date. That will alert them to the issue, and they may be able to make a suggestion about how best they can access the information.   

Tribunal members will do their best to communicate the content of a document as a last resort, but depending on the significance of the information contained in a late submission, there may be no option but to continue the hearing to another date.

Laura J Dunlop QC


Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland

Guidance for healthcare professionals on managing coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in pregnancy published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, with input from the Royal College of Anaesthetists, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland.

As some of you may be aware, the My Psych app was developed by colleagues in NHS GG&C as a resource to assist medical students and junior doctors during their psychiatry placements.  It initially launched in December offering three toolkits on student placement, medicine companion and MH research.

Whilst this was originally initiated as a medical resource within NHSGGC MH services, in view of the current circumstances and requests from colleagues elsewhere the developers decided to create a National COVID-19 Toolkit. This includes clinical information resources as well as training materials.

The National toolkit is now available to download.  Please install the MyPsych App from the Google Play or Apple app stores; you will be prompted to download your choice of toolkits. Select the Scotland COVID-19 toolkit.  With information and guidance changing on a daily basis, it is important that you update your app when prompted - you will see a red exclamation mark to alert you to this at any sections with new content. In addition you will receive pop up notifications for any urgent updates; iOS users should install the new version of MyPsych from the app store to enable these.  Please contact with any feedback.  

Please note that the MyPsych Team does not generate any material but simply gathers resources and links that have been approved by the appropriate bodies and management teams.

TURAS e-learning module for managers and leaders of health and social care staff teams working in COVID 19 environments

NES Wellbeing and Planning Tool (PDF) - This can be used by any of member of the workforce to support them to take a proactive approach to protecting their wellbeing.


RSPsych in Scotland webinars

We've been producing webinars in which our experts discuss specific aspects of the pandemic.

An overview of the emergency provisions within the Coronavirus legislation, when this might be enacted and the support the College would provide. Roger Smyth of NHS Lothian discusses the specific legislative changes, and Arun Chopra of the Mental Welfare Commission speaks about the practical day-to-day impact of processing these changes.

Led by Dr Jane Morris with presentations from the College’s Suicide Prevention Lead, Dr David Hall, and Samaritans Scotland Director, Rachell Cackett, discussions focus on the impact of the pandemic on incidences of suicide.

The efforts underway or in development to support those who are suicidal are discussed, as well as research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.