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05th January 2017

Mental Health support service provision


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When a health problem arises for any of us, it is important to have rapid and suitable support services easily acceptable to deal with the problem. If not available the problem may worsen, and it may be more expensive and difficult to deal with. This is as true of mental health as it is of physical health.

Local services?

Unfortunately, the trend of current policies and funding of service provision seems to ignore that common sense fact. ITN requested information of provision across 58 mental health trusts: 32 trusts responded. 60% of trusts have reduced the number of mental health places, despite the promised increase of funding by the Government to the extent of £1 billion. This has not been matched by developing sufficient local community early response services.

The reduction in places has required trusts to frequently send patients long distances. The trusts gave information about how far people had to travel when there was no service locally. In many cases, people had to travel over a hundred miles to receive the service.

This is in the context of promised improvements after the Winterbourne View crisis five years ago, with a consequent inquiry. The resulting Bubb report advocated 'the pooling of health, social care and housing budgets, and to mandate NHS and local government commissioners to draw up a long-term plan for spending that funding in a way that builds up community services'. Local and responsive mental services still seem, for many people a distant dream.

Waiting time targets unmet

MSPs in Scotland have also warned of a decline in the availability of mental health support in many parts of the country. This was reported in the Scotsman newspaper. The Health Committee convener, Neil Finlay wrote a letter of concern to the Government about lengthy waiting times beyond agreed limits, particularly for young people. The Committee stated that they had seen no improvement in early intervention and prevention work over the past 13 years. They could also see no justification for the continuation of different waiting times for people requiring physical and mental health support.

The Scottish Government has responded by promising an increased £10 million immediately to improve primary mental health care. A forthcoming Scottish Mental Health strategy will ensure overall and progressive annual increases of funding for mental health services.

Conclusion

While major changes are taking place in our country's place in the world, and overseas events appear to dominate the news, let us hope that our governments can improve help in these vitally important personal situations which many people experience.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Tony Clarke

Scottish Care Inspectorate Specialist

Tony began care work as a care assistant in care of the elderly here in Scotland in the 1970s. He very much enjoyed promoting activities, interests and good basic care. After a gap to gain a social work qualification, he worked in management of care services, latterly as a peripatetic manager which gave him experience of a wide range of services.

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