Information Commissioner orders Ministers to release mental health recruitment reports

​Scottish Liberal Democrats today warned that SNP ministers must be up front with people about the steps it is taking to respond to the mental health crisis after SNP ministers were ordered by the Information Commissioner to publish mental health staff recruitment reports which have been kept secret for two years.

The party first asked the government in 2019 for the reports the government had collected on how it was progressing with Action 15 of the Mental Health Strategy - a plan to fund and recruit 800 additional mental health workers in key settings. 

These requests were submitted amidst concerns that the government were ‘diluting’ their commitment, as many of the professionals recruited so far are allocated to unidentifiable ‘Other Settings’.

Ministers argued against the release of recruitment projections, including detail about where staff will be located and the roles being recruited, for two years. However, the Information Commissioner has now concluded withholding this information is a breach of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and has ordered its disclosure.

 

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:

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Rennie: Taxpayers deserve a full explanation on Gupta's Lochaber smelter

Responding to reports that the business empire of Sanjeev Gupta is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over suspected fraudulent trading and money laundering, Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie commented:

“The Scottish Government’s exposure at the Lochaber smelter runs to hundreds of millions of pounds.

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Scottish Liberal Democrats call for parliamentary statement on exams

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today lodged a request for a parliamentary statement amid mounting concern and evidence about the stress and damage being caused by the flood of assessments replacing exams.

In a letter to John Swinney, Beatrice Wishart has told of a pupil who has the equivalent of an assessment a day for 8 weeks straight and warned of the toll the demands are taking on young people and staff.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP wrote:

"The alternative arrangements imposed by the SQA for this year’s exams are clearly and indisputably causing harm to young people and their teachers.

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Pupils sitting assessments need quick access to counsellors as documents show target missed

Scottish Liberal Democrats today said it's critical that every pupil currently sitting assessments has quick access to a counsellor after documents published online by the Scottish Government show a target for counsellors in schools was missed and Parliament "given the run-around"

The SNP Programme for Government contained a commitment to "create around 350 counsellors” by September 2020.

A Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request, just published on the Scottish Government website, shows ministers being told in December 2020 that only 215.35 counsellors had been “allocated to secondary schools”. They couldn’t confirm how many staff were otherwise available.

Ministers were advised to issue a press release and give the figures to Parliament’s library and three parliamentary committees. However, during the final weeks of the last Parliament, when asked by Scottish Liberal Democrats whether the target had been met - both in Committee and in parliamentary questions - the figures were withheld by John Swinney.

 

Speaking during Mental Health Awareness Week, Beatrice Wishart MSP said:

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Rennie: We owe a proper inquiry to the people of Scotland

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie has today responded to the news that there will not be a specific Scottish inquiry.

Mr Rennie said:

“We owe it to those who have lost friends and family to have a full inquiry into what went wrong as well as what went right. 

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Rennie challenges First Minister to end 3 year waits for mental health help

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today written to alert the First Minister to waits of up to three years for children and young people for mental health treatment, and to challenge the Scottish Government to share their plan for service recovery.

The intervention, during Mental Health Awareness Week, comes after Mr Rennie gathered statistics showing children and young people waiting up to 3 years 31 days to access mental health services.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Rennie wrote:

Dear First Minister,

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Rennie: We will work across the parliament to put recovery first

Speaking after the final election results were declared, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie MSP said:

“I congratulate all those, from all parties, who have been elected to our new parliament.

“I look forward to working across the new chamber to put recovery first.

“Liberal Democrats have had some astonishing constituency results.

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Willie Rennie's message as poll close

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

“As polls close I would like to thank all of the Scottish Liberal Democrat activists who have worked so hard over the past few months to deliver an energetic and positive campaign from the Borders to the Highlands and Islands.

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Scottish Greens cannot be trusted to put climate emergency ahead of independence

In an appeal to Scottish Green voters, campaign chair Alistair Carmichael MP has today said every vote for the Scottish Liberal Democrats is a vote to “put the climate emergency ahead of independence”.  

The intervention comes after a poll by Lord Ashcroft Polls showed Greens voters hold mixed views on independence. The poll reported only 43% of Green supporters supported independence, while 46% were against it. 

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“Put Recovery First” - Rennie delivers eve of poll message to voters

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today kicked off the final day of campaigning before polls open at an airfield in East Lothian, where he urged voters to back Liberal Democrat candidates who will put recovery first, not an independence referendum. 

Kicking off a whistle stop tour that will take him from the South of Scotland to the Highlands, Mr Rennie said: 

“Over the past few weeks, I have crisscrossed Scotland speaking to voters. Liberal Democrats are on the brink of taking new seats from the Borders to the Highlands.

“Voters can choose whether the next Parliament is one that puts recovery first or one that is dominated by independence. 

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