Lib Dems search for truth over bogus mental health recruitment figures

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has filed a series of parliamentary questions as he seeks to get to the bottom of “bogus” Scottish government claims over mental health staffing. 

Action 15 of the Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027 says that the government will "Increase the workforce to increase access to dedicated mental health professionals in all A&Es, all GP practices, every police station custody suite, and to our prisons. Over the next five years increasing additional investment to £35 million for 800 additional mental health workers in those key settings."  

On Tuesday, mental health minister Kevin Stewart claimed that “A total of 958.9 whole time equivalent mental health staff have been recruited in key settings over 4 years, significantly exceeding the original commitment for 800 additional workers”.  

However, the number of staff recruited for the four key settings identified in the mental health strategy actually totalled just 625.3, with the remainder of the Government’s extra staff based in other settings such as community workers.  

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has now filed a series of questions asking what percentage of the key settings identified in Action 15 now have dedicated mental health professionals, the total number of mental health professionals in place and how many of these are new recruits.

Alex Cole-Hamilton said: 

“It’s been clear for several years now that the Scottish Government were not going to meet this key staffing target, but rather than redouble their efforts, they have chosen to cheat and include staff recruited for other settings and claim that this means they have met their target.  

“It is setting a bad precedent that the government is prepared to roll out bogus figures to claim mental health performance is better than it actually is. 

“Community workers and psychology practitioners have an important role to play but this is not what this target was for.  

“The Scottish Government have had five years to get on top of this issue. These parliamentary questions will help us to get to the bottom of the true level of staffing in our mental health services and expose the Scottish Government’s attempts to pull the wool over people’s eyes.” 

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently warned the Scottish Government that even 800 staff wouldn't be enough to meet the huge demand that exists in GP surgeries, A&E, in prisons and with the police. These critical services are under huge pressure. It is time for a major recruitment drive.” 

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