Monday December 12th 2022
Concern over a ‘pause’ on funding for mental health services has been raised after a health boss said people are becoming iller for longer.
Midlothian Council’s head of adult services said a decision by Scottish Government to ‘postpone or remove’ primary care funding which had been expected to help support mental health work had caused concern.
And he warned it was going to be a difficult winter for mental health services with an unexplained rise in more complex cases.
Nick Clater said Midlothian health and social care services were using all the bed capacity they have at the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary.
He said the decision by Scottish Government to put funding on hold had caused concern.
Speaking to a meeting of the council’s performance, review and scrutiny committee, Mr Clater said: “We’ve received some indication from Sottish Government that the funding we were expecting for mental health in primary care may be postponed and it may be removed altogether due to the funding challenges the Scottish Government has.
“We did have some posts earmarked against that, in primary care, specifically for mental health and that lower level of distress that we work with.
“Mental health currently and for quarter two and beyond has been very, very busy, probably the busiest since I have come to Midlothian.
“We are fully using our bed allocation at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital which is very unusual for us. We are generally very good at keeping people out of hospital but we are seeing people who are iller for longer and it is a source of concern for us.”
Councillor Kelly Drummond told the meeting she was “disappointed” to hear funding had been removed, asking if the fact beds were full at Royal Edinburgh was “a sign that mental health services have been at breaking point for a very long time”.
She said: “It really concerns me that we are getting delays to funding to help these services which try to help people get the help they need before they reach crisis point and are ending up in places like the Royal Edinburgh.”
Mr Clater responded: “The pause in the primary care funding is a concern because that is the entry point for most people coming in.
“That would allow us to do the preventative work right at the beginning with people who would normally present to their GP.”
And he said the increase in more complex cases was also a concern for health chiefs who are trying to establish the reasons for it.
He said: “We are trying to analyse why that is. We do occasionally go through peaks and troughs, sometimes it is the time of year, we don’t know if cost of living issues have more to do with that, we just don’t know yet so it is fairly speculative.”
However, he warned councillors, “we are in for a difficult winter in mental health.”Tweet Share on Facebook