I've called for a mental health professional to be available in every GP practice after it was revealed that one in five patients waited longer than an 18-week treatment target since it was introduced two years ago.
Our analysis of figures from ISD Scotland uncovered the extent of the problem which has seen 21,095 patients failed to be treated within the 18-week standard for psychological therapies.
Of those who have been seen since December 2014, 16,386 patients waited longer than this. There are a further 4,709 patients still on the waiting list who have been there for longer than 18 weeks.
Ahead of the budget we have called for mental health to be taken more seriously by the Scottish Government. One of the policies the party has proposed is for every GP practice to have an additional qualified mental health professional to support and treat patients, providing one million extra treatment sessions each year in the community
These figures show that when it comes to mental health the SNP have categorically failed people. Not only has this 18-week treatment target been missed since the day it was introduced, it has been missed by a longshot. One in five people – more than 20,000 patients – have waited longer than promised.
It is little surprise waiting time targets for treatment continue to be missed given the SNP have consistently cut the share of NHS spending on mental health and ministers allowed the mental health strategy to expire last year.
We need to see a step change in the way we treat mental health and the Scottish Government must take it much more seriously.
Our plan is for every GP practice to have an additional qualified mental health professional to support and treat patients. This will help people get the treatment they need quickly and efficiently.
We cannot continue to miss these targets and tolerate thousands of patients waiting months, in some cases even years, for treatment. We have laid out clear plans which would see mental health care finally placed on the same footing as physical health. If the Scottish Government is serious about transforming mental health services they should back our proposals.