Mike Rumbles, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East and Angus Councillor David May have accused the Scottish Government of “washing their hands” of their mental health failures, passing the buck to cash strapped health boards and primary care services.
Following a string of questions to the Scottish Ministers, Mr Rumbles expressed his frustration that simple questions regarding access to mental health services have been left unanswered, particularly regarding access to services in the North East’s rural communities.
Mr Rumbles said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that the Minister for Public Health has chosen to pass the buck for inadequate mental health services to our NHS Boards. Although I welcome the increased use of helpline and online services such as Breathing Space and computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, this cannot be used as a substitute for one to one treatment by a mental health professional.
“The underfunding of mental health services continues to be an issue, with the Scottish Government only providing an additional £150 million over the next 5 years. That’s £30 million a year between 14 health boards. Acute services in NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside will receive just £490,805 and £381,033 per year, respectively - that’s just not good enough!
“The SNP Government needs to accept responsibility for mental health and commit to serious investment to ensure our communities receive the service they deserve.”
David May, Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor for Montrose and a member of the joint board for Angus Health and Social Care partnership added: ”It seems clear that the shortage of appropriately trained staff is a major reason for the possible closure of the £20 Million Mulberry Unit at Stracathro which was only opened in December 2011. This can to some extent be laid at the door of the Scottish Government Health Minister and she and her predecessor, who have failed to recruit an adequate number of mental health staff. This may result in the closure of the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital.
Angus residents will be clearly appalled at this threat as closing the facility would have an impact on crisis help in Angus as well as community-based care. It is obvious that closure will mean additional travel and costs for many patients and staff, and support from family and friends for patients will be more difficult. I have also heard that any threat to the Mulberry unit also impacts on the Susan Carnegie and Stroke units at the hospital, which share staff and the health minster must take action to stop this.
The closure of local mental health units is inconsistent with the 20/ 20 vision of the SNP government to treat people at home or as near to home as possible and may force people in our Angus rural communities to travel unnecessary distances to receive the treatment they need.”
Notes for editors:
The Scottish Government has committed £150 million in additional funding to mental health over 5 years
NHS Grampian will receive and additional £2,454,025 for acute services over 5 years and £894,179 over 2 years for primary care
NHS Tayside will receive and additional £1,905,168 for acute services over 5 years and £694,191 over 2 years for primary care
The Scottish Government's 2020 Vision is that by 2020 everyone is able to live longer healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting and, that we will have a healthcare system where:
- We have integrated health and social care
- There is a focus on prevention, anticipation and supported self-management
- Hospital treatment is required, and cannot be provided in a community setting, day case treatment will be the norm
- Whatever the setting, care will be provided to the highest standards of quality and safety, with the person at the centre of all decisions
- There will be a focus on ensuring that people get back into their home or community environment as soon as appropriate, with minimal risk of re-admission