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Question ref. S6W-04347
Asked by: Sue Webber, Lothian, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
Date lodged: 16 November 2021


To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to meet any increased need for psychological therapies within remote and isolated communities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current status: Answered by Kevin Stewart on 30 November 2021


Our Transition and Recovery Plan recognised that there can be challenges relating to rural isolation, which may be increasingly felt by those in remote communities as a result of the pandemic. We have committed to working in partnership with the National Rural Mental Health Forum to develop an approach to ensure that these communities have equal and timely access to mental health support and services, including consideration of whether dedicated pathways are needed. We’re keen to support efforts by NHS Boards to promote the use of digital services, in particular to maximise the benefits for rural communities; whilst recognising that this isn’t the solution for everyone.

Our Transition and Recovery Plan is supported by a £120m Recovery and Renewal fund. This year, a total of £9m has been allocated from this fund to address Psychological Therapies waiting times. Phase one funding of £5 million was allocated to Health Boards to address long waits within psychological therapies. Phase two funding of £4 million was recently approved to allow Boards to recruit more staff now, see the longest waits, meet the anticipated winter surge of those being referred for psychological interventions, and support the creation of a more effective digital infrastructure so those in remote and rural communities can be seen whenever and wherever they require care. Phase two funding included a minimum allocation for Island Boards to ensure that they can use the money in the transformational way it is intended.