On Friday 29 September, the Scottish Government published Core Quality Standards for Scottish Mental Health Services. This follows several years of engagement with workforce and lived experience stakeholders.
The College in Scotland welcomes the ambition of these standards and a focus on improving quality rather than a continued emphasis on waiting time targets. As clinicians, working with some of the most vulnerable members of society, we want the best possible care for our patients. We see these standards as a step in an ongoing journey of improvement that we as a profession would support and want to actively engage in.
However, we are also acutely aware of the continued and unrelenting pressure that we face from a combination of workforce gaps, increasing demand and under-investment. We fear that without additional resources these standards risk raising expectations which may not be achievable for services and further undermine morale, recruitment and retention. We intend to actively work with the Scottish Government in making the case for continued investment in secondary care mental health services and to take urgent steps to address the workforce crisis.
A key theme from the workforce consultation that preceded the development of the standards was around the need to better define the function and role of General adult mental health services. It is not just important to define what services should be providing but also to describe who would be most likely to benefit from them. Defining the thresholds for adult mental health secondary care services and identifying who would benefit most from such services is critical to ensuring equity of access, consistency of care and ultimately improving quality.
We strongly believe that the standards in their current form are incomplete and require the development of a Service Specification for Adult Mental Health services to provide the level of detail necessary in ensuring this. We have highlighted our views on this to Scottish Government in the strongest possible terms and will continue to push for this as a priority.