86% of GPs bemoan lack of mental health staff

19 Nov 2023
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today bemoaned the failure of the Scottish Government to deliver enough mental health staff as he revealed the results of a government-run survey revealing 86% of GPs say they had either ‘insufficient’ access or ‘no access’ at all to a mental health practitioner.

The Primary care reforms: GP feedback survey published by Public Health Scotland assessed the first three years of reform that was carried out through the General Medical Services 2018 contract. This reform extended the use of multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) within primary care so that GPs could have support that allowed them to focus on those patients with more complex needs.

The survey revealed that:

• Just 14% of GPs believed their practice had sufficient access to mental health practitioners. This falls to 9% in the areas of highest deprivation.

• Just 21% of GPs believed their practice had sufficient access to advanced practice physiotherapists.

• Just 29% of GPs believed their practice had sufficient access to pharmacy workers.

Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

“My party worked so hard to persuade the government of the importance of putting mental health practitioners into surgeries in every corner of Scotland.

“GPs were promised new colleagues to help lessen the load and improve the mental health care available.  

“But, with Humza Yousaf as Health Secretary, the government actually hit pause on its pledge to train and hire more staff. £50 million was cut from mental health last winter.

“And the Royal College of GPs say commitments to expand local teams in the remainder of this Parliament won’t be met.

“Scotland needs world-class mental health services. The Health Secretary has already broken his personal commitment to everyone waiting for help to clear mental health waiting lists. Why is he now breaking his commitments to GPs too?


Notes to editors:

The survey of GPs can be found here:


News reports of mental health recruitment being paused can be found here: https://news.stv.tv/politics/humza-yousaf-criticised-after-nhs-scotland-mental-health-recruitment-pledge-paused

Scottish Government yet to start on key mental health recruitment pledge https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/scottish-government-yet-start-key-29917271

Comments from the Royal College of GPs can be found here: https://www.rcgp.org.uk/News/RCGP-Scotland-GPs-first-port-call-crisis

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