Hume urges Mental Health Officer boost

Scottish Liberal Democrats have repeated calls to the Scottish Government to boost the number of Mental Health Officers in Scotland. 

 A report published by the Scottish Social Services Council today revealed that the number of MHO’s has fallen to its lowest level since 2005 decreasing to 657 in December 2014.

The report warned:

  • 30 additional full-time MHO’s are required to fill the shortfalls reported by councils
  • An ageing workforce has meant more than half of the 62 workers who left the profession last year did so by retiring
  • The MHO WTE rate per 100,000 people is the lowest since 2005. In March 2009 there were 12.4 MHOs per 100,000 people, and the figure in December 2014 was 11.3.
  • 21 out of 32 local authorities have a shortfall of MHOs

The decrease in the number of these crucial specialists will spark further concerns about the ability of local authorities to protect the civil liberties of individuals with mental ill health.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP said:

“I’m concerned that the rights of people with mental ill health will increasingly be at risk unless the Scottish Government takes immediate action to support Mental Health Officers.

“The number of Mental Health Officers per 100,000 population is now at the lowest since the SNP came into power. The number of MHOs has fallen further to 657 at a time when demand on services is increasing.

“MHOs provide an important safeguard of ensuring that all options are investigated before using compulsory admission of an individual with mental ill health. They are a vital link in protecting an individual’s rights, properties and possessions.

“It’s unacceptable that SNP ministers should allow the number of MHO’s to fall further at a time when, in some areas, nearly six out of ten of emergency detention certificates have been achieved without MHO consent.

“This is why I am urging Scottish Government ministers to support the increase in mental health officers, better resource these services and enshrine in law parity between the treatment of mental and physical health.”

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