Huge concern over surge in mental health calls to NHS 24

Press release, Scotland news
05 January 2024

Calls to NHS 24 about psychosis symptoms have increased by 100% in two years, new research has found.

Figures by Scottish Labour from the NHS 23 Mental Health hub show that overall calls have declined but calls about psychosis and alcohol have increased dramatically.

The data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed problems such as alcohol addiction, poor sleep, psychotic symptoms, suicidal acts and suicidal thoughts increased.

Calls regarding alcohol problems have risen by more than 600 in two years with calls regarding psychotic symptoms more than doubling – by more than 5,000 – since 2021, when the reason for calling began to be recorded.

The statistics came after the Scottish Health Survey showed mental wellbeing is at a record low.

In 2021, a total of 1,282 calls related to alcohol, which increased by 47% in 2023, to 1,885 calls.

In the same year, the NHS hub received 5,112 calls about psychotic symptoms, which increased to 10,259 in 2023 – an increase of 101%.

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

“This is a huge concern to us – particularly the rise in calls involving psychotic symptoms which are potentially related to the most severe mental disorders.

“These illnesses need to be treated effectively and without delay but sadly these are the very conditions where we’re seeing the worst manpower shortages. It is no wonder the lack of service provision is leading to an increase in symptoms reported.”

She called on the Scottish Government to boost spending for mental health, adding:

“Again, we call on the Scottish Government to increase spending and keep their own promises of 10% of the total NHS spend going towards mental health and 1% for CAMHS.

“The £30m cut from the recent Scottish Budget must also be immediately restored as the toll on the mental health needs of all Scots simply cannot be ignored.”

Mental well-being minister Maree Todd said: “We’re committed to improving mental health service provision in primary care settings and focus more on prevention and early intervention in the community, providing high-quality mental healthcare in general practice.

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