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by Louise Wilson
29 March 2021
Scottish Labour commits to ending mental health referral rejection

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Scottish Labour commits to ending mental health referral rejection

Scottish Labour has pledged to implement a “no wrong door” approach for mental health to ensure no one is rejected for support.

This would see every patient who approached any part of the NHS with a mental health concern signposted to the appropriate place for treatment and ensure no referral is met with rejection.

In its NHS recovery plan, the party has also committed to placing a mental health worker at every GP practice in Scotland and for every health board to have a dedicated mental health A&E.

It follows rising concerns about worsening mental health issues over the last year, with more people reporting depressive and suicidal episodes.

A survey by the Mental Health Foundation, published last week to coincide with one year since the first lockdown, revealed an increasing number of adults were likely to report feeling lonely and fewer felt they were coping with the stress of the pandemic.

Labour’s plan also includes a pledge to increase mental health spending, to fully digitise specialist mental health services and to offer every Scottish pupil a mental health assessment.

Other commitments include a “catch-up initiative” for cancer screening programmes, investing in digital healthcare, increasing NHS staff pay and delivering a national care service.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “COVID has reminded us of the value of our NHS, but the past year has not come without a cost.

“Waiting times have soared, there are missing cancer patients, a growing mental health crisis, and an exhausted workforce.

“Restoring the NHS and Scotland’s health will be key to Scotland’s recovery, and we can’t go back to the old way of doing things.”

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon committed to establishing fast-track cancer detection services to tackle the backlog.

The most recent figures from Public Health Scotland found there had been a 24 per cent reduction in people starting treatment for cancer.

The SNP leader said three fast-track centres would be piloted this summer. The Scottish Government had previously announced it would roll out two centres before March 2023.

Sturgeon said: “I can announce today that as part of our cancer recovery plan, a re-elected SNP government will establish at least one new fast track cancer diagnostic centre in every health board area.”

Yesterday, the Scottish Greens announced a plan to invest ten per cent of the frontline health spend to mental health by 2026.

Co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “We need to prioritise support for children and young people, ensure mental health support is available at all GP practices, and expand access to remedies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Social Prescribing.”

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