Scottish Liberal Democrats will push mental health further up Scotland’s political agenda this week with a key summit attended by experts across mental health specialities.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP today announced that he will host a mental health summit at Holyrood on the 30th July, calling for action to be taken before even more patients fall through the gaps due to lengthy waiting times for treatments.
Leading figures from the British Medical Association, Royal College of Psychiatrists and other charities, campaigners and service users will attend the summit to join discussion over how crucial mental health services can be improved.
Official figures have shown that the number of psychiatric specialty beds across the country fell from 5,273 in December 2009 to 4,303 in December 2014. This is a drop of 970 beds.
Commenting, Jim Hume MSP said:
“Mental health has too often been the Cinderella service of our NHS in the past and we know that existing treatment facilities are under real strain.
“We need to send a clear message that leaving someone waiting a year for mental health treatment is simply not good enough. That is the reality facing vulnerable young people in many parts of Scotland. My summit will bring together some of the leading charities and campaigners in the field.
“I want to discuss what is right with current services, what is wrong, and crucially, what steps we need to take to ensure that mental health is taken seriously at the highest levels of government.
“Patients and their families deserve mental health services which are built to last. It is disappointing that the Scottish Government continue to have their head in the sand, failing even to get the ball rolling on their next mental health strategy.
“It is vital that all those involved in the mental health sector have the chance to have their say and this summit will be an important first step.”
Commenting, BMA Scotland Chair Dr Peter Bennie said:
“It is long past time that mental health was held in the same regard as physical health and treated with the same priority for action. This is a key issue for how healthcare in Scotland is delivered in the years ahead and I look forward to the discussions on this issue at the coming summit.”
Sophie Pilgrim, Director of mental health charity Kindred added:
“I am delighted to be invited to the Scottish Liberal Democrat Mental Health Summit. We work very closely with families and witness firsthand the distress of children, young people and parents resulting from underfunded mental health services.
“At present families are waiting many months only to receive inappropriate services far from home. We must act urgently to protect our overstretched CAMHS teams, not to mention the children and young people who, like any other patients, require timely treatment and support.”
Shane Buckeridge, Lead Advisor for Scotland, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said:
“The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is extremely pleased to have this opportunity to extend our conversations with MSPs and other stakeholders by contributing to this timely Scottish Mental Health Summit.
“We are committed to collaborating with other mental health organisations and with all political parties in Scotland, both to raise the profile of our members’ work and to highlight the benefits that counselling can contribute to improving the wellbeing of the Scottish population.”