Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has called on the Health Secretary, Shona Robison, to take immediate action to assist NHS Highland in light of the board warning of “significant pressures” on staffing levels in its mental health service.
NHS Highland currently has 33 vacancies at New Craigs Hospital, 25 of them for registered mental health nurses. The staffing gaps have led to a reduction in the number of general adult beds available.
This comes the day after NHS Dumfries & Galloway appealed to the government for more funding to ease waiting times and care pressures.
Alex Cole-Hamilton said:
“The government’s track record on mental health is dismal. Child mental health waiting times are the worst on record, hundreds of adults are waiting over a year for treatment and the Suicide Prevention Strategy is over 450 days late.
"Today we have learned that NHS Highland is being forced to scale back provision because of a desperate shortage of staff.
“Patients and staff are right to despair as mental health treatment continues to get worse, not better. Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently asked the government to break the cycle of years of under-investment in mental health and deliver a step change in the way we treat it, but we are still a long way off the required transformation.
"The Health Secretary must urgently work with NHS Highland to address the void of mental health staff and restore services so local people can have confidence the support they need is available.”