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Question ref. S6W-04348
Asked by: Sue Webber, Lothian, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
Date lodged: 16 November 2021


To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to meet any increased demand for psychological therapies, training or occupational health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current status: Answered by Kevin Stewart on 30 November 2021


During the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked closely with Health Boards to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on demand and capacity. Services are now working hard to return to previous activity levels and to deal with any backlogs that have developed, as well as to address long-standing issues around access to services. That is why we have set out in our Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan, published on 8 October, our plans to provide a tailored programme of enhanced improvement support for individual NHS Boards to improve their waiting times performance. We are also working on a national programme of support to Boards based on key themes emerging from their Covid remobilisation plans. Our Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan is supported by a £120 million Recovery and Renewal fund, announced in February 2021. The Fund will transform services, with a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention.

This year, £89m has already been allocated from the Fund. This includes an additional £9m to address Psychological Therapies waiting times. We remain committed to meeting the standard that 90% of patients begin treatment within 18 weeks of referral.

We are also taking steps to grow the mental health workforce to meet increasing demand, including increasing the Clinical Psychology Doctorate Training Programme intake by 10 trainees per year for the next three years; supporting 10 Masters level training places per year for the next three years; and funding a new Enhanced Psychology Practitioner training programme to create a new workforce of psychological practitioners capable of delivering high-quality, evidence-based interventions for mild to moderate difficulties in a way that can be deployed in Primary Care, Community, Early Years, and Schools. We have also developed a new Psychology Wellbeing Practitioner role within NHS24 to provide a compassionate response and support to callers who are experiencing mental health difficulties and distress.