Effort to bring in 800 mental health workers to North-east revealed by ministers

Maureen Watt MSP.

Hundreds of mental health workers will be employed in a bid to improve provisions at struggling health boards, including NHS Grampian.

The Scottish Government has revealed 800 additional mental health workers will be recruited to improve services at hospitals and GP surgeries across the country.

In March, Maureen Watt, Minister for Mental Health, admitted NHS Grampian was struggling to recruit mental health staff to the region, with just 45% of patients referred within the target waiting time between October and December 2016.

The figure made the North-east health board the worst performing in the country when it came to achieving the 90% target for the maximum 18 weeks from referral to treatment in specialist Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Announcing the new 10-year strategy to improve provisions, the MSP said the 800-strong staffing boost was key to improving access to services.

She said: “We’ll increase the workforce to give access to dedicated mental health professionals to all A&Es, all GP practices, every police station custody suite, and to our prisons.

“Over the next five years increasing additional investment of £35 million for our 800 workers in those key settings.

“This strategy will join up our services to refocus and deliver where needed.

“We want to see a nation where mental health is person-centred and recognises the life-changing benefits of fast effective treatment.

“Failing to recognise mental health costs not only our economy but individuals and communities.”

The Government’s 2017-2027 plan also proposes improving support for “preventative and less intensive” CAMHS, with a review of counselling in schools proposed.

A biannual forum will be established to help guide these planned changes.

Moves to create unscheduled mental health services with NHS 24 and locally-based services are also under way.