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Mental health funds must be long-term, says RCN Scotland

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Nurses in Scotland have for called a long-term approach to funding much-needed mental health services in the light of a multi-million pound investment by the Scottish government.

The government has announced it will be putting an extra £85m into mental health services over the next five years.

This is on top of a £15m innovation fund, bringing the total extra investment to £100m.

“While innovative services make a huge difference, they are often subject to funding cuts”

Norman Provan

The cash boost has been welcomed by nursing leaders, but they also stressed the need to invest long-term to ensure lasting change.

Norman Provan, associate director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, said nurses had a key role to play in improving access to mental health services and the quality of care.

“There are many examples of nurses operating innovative services that improve care for people with mental health problems, not only in NHS services in hospitals and the community, but also in local authority services,” he said.

“But while such innovative services make a huge difference, they are often subject to funding cuts and don’t know how long they’ll be open and providing much-needed support,” he added.

“They and the people who rely on their services need to know they will continue in the future,” said Mr Provan.

The government has said the new funding will be used to improve child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and bring down waiting times.

Other priority areas include improving the way primary care services respond to mental health issues, efforts to promote wellbeing through physical activity and boosting patient rights.

“Waiting times have come down significantly despite an unprecedented rise in the number of people seeking help”

Jamie Hepburn

The government said third sector organisations like charities will have a key role in delivering new services and there will be a focus on innovation and providing services in community settings.

The new funding comes on the back of a £7m investment in CAMHS this year and investment in developing the CAMHS workforce that has seen staffing levels reach “an all-time high”, according to official calculations.

“We have been investing heavily for a number of years and waiting times have come down significantly despite an unprecedented rise in the number of people seeking help,” said mental health minister Jamie Hepburn.

“Scotland was the first country in the UK to have a mental health waiting times target – a sign of how importantly we view this issue. But there is still more work to be done.”

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