Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has this afternoon called for Nicola Sturgeon to make an early commitment to match funding for mental health services in Scotland following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
Yesterday George Osbourne bowed to pressure from a cross-party campaign led by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb and promised an additional £600 million for mental health services.
Questioning the First Minister today on statistics published this week highlighting failures by NHS health boards, particularly Grampian and Tayside, to meet treatment time targets, Mr Rennie was told by her that the Scottish Government is establishing an improvement team for those health boards.
This is in spite of the fact that Liberal Democrats highlighted in June the length of time children were waiting to receive mental health treatment. At that time ministers responded that ‘detailed recovery plans’ were being developed for the boards struggling to meet target treatment times.
Questioning Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon Mr Rennie said:
“Bearing in mind the news this week about treatment times for child and adolescent mental health services in Grampian and Tayside, will the First Minister guarantee to match support for mental health services in Scotland?”
Upon hearing her refusal to give an early commitment to support those services ahead of the Finance Secretary's budget next month, Mr Rennie added:
“We asked her health minister in June about the shocking waiting times back then. He said he had a recovery plan. But since then it has actually got worse.
“Nicola Sturgeon responded to my questioning today by saying that the Scottish Government is establishing an improvement team for those health boards. We’ve heard that before.
“Hundreds of young people are waiting for months to get help they need urgently."