RCPsych in Scotland calls for fair share of Covid funding and for 'no wrong door' to accessing mental health care

Scotland news
27 November 2020

The Scottish Government must keep its promise and give mental health its fair share of funding - the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland said today.

The call comes as RCPsych in Scotland publishes its manifesto ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

Mental health services were already struggling pre-pandemic, despite ring-fenced funding of at least 8.1% of the health budget (£1.1bn).

And this week, figures released by Public Health Scotland, revealed mental health inpatient admissions were at their highest rates since 1997/98.

Now, RCPsych in Scotland is calling on firm assurances that the 8.1% will also be applied to health funding announced in the Autumn, to deal with the Covid-19 crisis of up to £1.8bn.

With mental health services already stretched, adding the 8.1% already committed, would mean an additional £145m to deal with the fallout from the pandemic.

Professor John Crichton, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland said: “We have warmly welcomed funding increases in 2019/20, but mental health care did not have the resources to meet the needs of all Scots prior to the pandemic, with the highest rate of inpatient admissions since 1998.

“As clinicians working hard on the frontline during the worst health crisis in modern history, we know that the number of patients presenting with mental health conditions, will dramatically increase in the future.

“There is no health without mental health and that is why we are calling on the Scottish Government to give us a firm commitment that mental health services will receive it’s fair share of funding.”

Our manifesto

The RCPsych’s recent survey of the public revealed 33% of people with pre-existing mental ill health have seen their condition worsen during the pandemic. To respond to this and to support the one in four Scots with mental ill health, the RCPsych is calling for radical policy change to ensure there is no wrong door to getting the right mental health care, in the right place, and at the right time. This includes:

  1. ensuring mental health receives its fair share of COVID health funding
  2. delivering by 2022 a mental health workforce plan that provides the staff needed to meet post-COVID demand
  3. supporting our most vulnerable children and young people by ensuring 1% of all health spending goes to CAMHS by 2026
  4. taking a public health-led approach to tackling drug and alcohol addictions, including in access to care and treatment for those with a dual diagnosis.

For those interested in discussing the manifesto further, please contact our Policy Officer, Aidan Reid.


  • Pre-COVID – In the 2019–2020 budget, mental health got £1.1bn in total. This represented a slight increase, and was sufficient to keep up with the Government’s medium-term financial targets set in 2018 in a health and social care financial framework to maintain an 8.1% spend on mental health.
  • Significant boost to healthcare ­– we welcome the £1.8bn which has been invested into health and social care during the pandemic (as announced in the autumn budget revision), to deal with the multitude of issues across the care system.
  • No guarantees – there has, been no guarantees the 8.1% proportion will apply to relevant Covid health funding. If the 8.1% figure was applied to spending already committed, this would mean an additional £145m was provided.
  • Our YouGov PLC poll –Total sample size was 1,055 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th - 10th November 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scotland adults (aged 18+). Key results included 48% of Scots think too little is currently spent on mental health, compared to 3% who thought too much was spent. The research also showed 15% thought that mental health services should be the top priority when it comes to investment, compared to other services such as social care (5%) and secondary care (5%).

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