One in eight mental health posts not filled
One in eight senior mental health roles in Scotland are vacant, according to a freedom of information request made by the Scottish Lib Dems.
None of Scotland’s health boards has a full complement of mental health staff, with NHS Lothian and NHS Lanarkshire having the highest number of vacancies at 14 each.
Across Scotland, 82 consultant psychiatrist roles are vacant and neither NHS Western Isles nor NHS Orkney has permanent consultant psychiatrists.
Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The Scottish Government must get serious about staffing. They must invest in a proper national health service recovery plan that includes proposals that ensure our national mental health is a priority and puts the staff and resources in place to make that happen.”
The latest data from Public Health Scotland found mental health discharges were at their highest levels in over 20 years, with 51,400 patients discharged in 2019-20 compared to around 43,000 in 1997-98.
And the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned the pandemic will result in a spike in mental ill health.
The body has called for an extra £145m to be given to mental health services to directly deal with the fallout from the pandemic.
The Scottish Government recently published its mental health COVID recovery plan, which also includes information for health boards to respond to increasing demand in the months ahead.
Addressing parliament at the time, Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “Throughout this year, mental health has continued to be an absolute priority for this government, and we’ve invested £6m of dedicated funding to support the whole population.
“Our Transition and Recovery Plan for Mental Health reflects how fundamental this issue is. It is comprehensive, containing over a hundred actions, and focuses on the specific mental health needs of everyone across Scotland.”