Senior Scottish psychiatrists in ‘disbelief’ at mental health care funding settlement

Press release, Scotland news
20 December 2023

Senior psychiatrists are in 'disbelief' as direct funding for mental health services was slashed again in the Scottish budget.

For two years running the Scottish Government initially committed to the same budget of around £290m before reducing the allocation of money during the year.

Those in-year cuts along with high inflation means the budget fell by 16% over the last two years – despite ministers promising to commit 10% of the total NHS spend to mental health.

Latest data from Public Health Scotland shows the current figure stands at 8.8% (2021/22) which is a shortfall of £180m each year.

The 10% threshold was closest to being met back in 2008/09 at 9.7%

Mental health services also suffered another hit last week when Deputy First Minister Shona Robison announced a £30m cut to this year’s budget for mental health.

Now RCPsych in Scotland is asking that figures are looked at again as a matter of urgency as the toll on the mental health needs of Scots cannot be ignored.

The College is also calling for any funding to be ring-fenced to reduce the postcode lottery of mental health services.

Dr Jane Morris, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said:

“There is utter disbelief that once again, the direct mental health budget has effectively been reduced and the Scottish Government has failed to meet its own targets.

“We’re aware national finances are extremely tight, but we must continue to ensure we keep working toward parity with physical health and mental health does not bear the brunt of cutbacks.

“Ministers will claim they have increased the budget when really it amounts to a reduction given the current economic climate. However even before the financial crisis our services were struggling.

“That’s why we’re calling on ministers to increase spending on mental health to their own promises of 10% of the total NHS spend and 1% for CAMHS.

“We’d also urge the Scottish Government to take steps to ring-fence that money rather than leave it to individual Health Boards – otherwise we will continue to see a postcode lottery of care across the country.

“The Deputy First Minister must also restore the £30 million cut from this year’s budget immediately as the toll on the mental health needs of all Scots simply cannot be ignored.”

A YouGov poll of 1,103 people in Scotland earlier this year, revealed 53% of Scots are not confident they or a family member could access mental health support, if needed.

While only 11% were optimistic that mental health services will improve over the next two years.

And 58% think that not enough is being spent on mental health from the Scottish Government’s health budget.

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