‘Disbelief’ from psychiatrists at mental health funding settlement in Scottish budget

Psychiatrists have reacted with “utter disbelief” after mental health funding was frozen in cash terms in the Scottish Budget.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists said the £290.2 million settlement for 2024/25 – an identical figure to the previous two years – means there has been a 16% reduction in real-terms spending when in-year cuts are also considered.

The SNP has committed to investing 10% of frontline NHS spending in mental health by the end of this Parliament.

Last week, a number of leading mental health organisations said an additional £180 million is needed to meet the commitment.

Dr Jane Morris (pictured), chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said: “There is utter disbelief that, once again, the direct mental health budget has effectively been reduced and the Scottish Government has failed to meet its own targets.

“We’re well aware national finances are extremely tight, but we must continue to ensure we keep working toward parity with physical health and mental health does not bear the brunt of cutbacks.

“Ministers will claim they have increased the budget when really it amounts to a reduction given the current economic climate.

“We’d also urge the Scottish Government to take steps to ring-fence that money rather than leave it to individual health boards – otherwise we will continue to see a postcode lottery of care across the country.

“The Deputy First Minister must also restore the £30 million cut from this year’s budget immediately as the toll on the mental health needs of all Scots simply cannot be ignored.”

In the Budget document, the Government pledged to bring down waiting times for children’s mental health services.

It said: “Mental health has seen significant budget increases over recent years and we will continue to optimise investments in prevention, improving mental health and wellbeing support, with reduced waiting times for child & adolescent mental health services.”

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