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Calls for more investment as Scotland's inpatient rate hits two-decade high

The number of mental health inpatients in Scotland has reached its highest in 20 years, leading to calls for greater investment in mental health services.

Released by Public Health Scotland, figures show an almost 25% relative increase in mental health discharges between 1997/98 and 2019/20, from 43,000 to 51,400.

In response, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has called for an extra £145 million to be invested in the industry to help with a growing demand for mental health support.

The amount is based on the pre-pandemic ring-fenced funding for the sector of 8.1%, equivalent to £1.1 billion. The RCP is now asking for the same 8.1% figure to be applied to the recently approved additional COVID-19 funding, which would result in an extra £145 million being used to bolster mental health services.

“We have warmly welcomed funding increases in 2019/20, but mental health care did not have the resources to meet the needs of all Scots prior to the pandemic, with the highest rate of inpatient admissions since 1998," said Professor John Crichton, chair of the RCP in Scotland. “As clinicians working hard on the front line during the worst health crisis in modern history, we know that the number of patients presenting with mental health conditions will dramatically increase in the future."

The call forms part of the RCPs recently published 2021 manifesto, which appeals for policies that treat mental and physical health as equals to help combat disparities between communities.

"We call on all political parties to recognise there is no health without mental health, to adopt policies that deliver parity between physical and mental health, and work with partners to ensure there is no wrong door for all our diverse communities to accessing the right care, in the right place, at the right time for mental ill health," states the report.

Read more: NHS mental health services 'consistently poor', regulator finds

Other suggestions in the report include:

  • A multidisciplinary mental health workforce plan to provide care at the point of need

  • A national transitions strategy to help the most vulnerable young people in the country transition into adulthood

  • Defined community pathways for people to quickly access the support they need

  • A public health-led approach to addressing drug and alcohol addictions, including access to care and treatment for those with a dual diagnosis

  • Ensuring that, by 2026, 1% of what is spent on health is being use to support the mental health of young people through Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services

With the increase in demand for mental health support resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, several bodies are highlighting the need for more financial support for the sector.

A recent report from the health and care regulator for the UK, the Care Quality Commission, states that the 'consistently poor' issues with access, communication and patient involvement are yet to be at their worst and are likely to be affected by COVID-19.

To read the full RCP 2021 manifesto, click here.

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