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LibDems set out plan for mental health rapid reaction force

April 3, 2016 1:15 PM
Willie Rennie with Craig Duncan and Daniel ColemanDundee Liberal Democrat candidates Craig Duncan (Dundee City East) and Daniel Coleman (Dundee City West) today met Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie at Dudhope House, Dundee's Child and Adolescent Mental Health unit, where they highlighted that mental health must be at the top of the agenda for the next Scottish Government.
Mr Rennie said that there must be a step change in mental health services. calling for a revolution in the way that mental ill health is treated in Scotland.
Liberal Democrat plans would introduce full time, 24/7 mental health cover in 30 A&E departments across Scotland and provide full time mental health cover in every police division in Scotland.
Mr Rennie said that these new staff would offer a rapid reaction force that would help ensure that people suffering a mental ill health crisis get the support they need.
The Lib Dem proposals would see mental health staff deployed to police custody centres and working with police officers in "joint cars" to provide emergency care. The Home Office has said that joint car schemes have reduced the number of people being detained under the Mental Health Act by an average of 25%.
Commenting, Mr Rennie said, "Mental health has been the poor relation of our NHS for too long. The share of the NHS budget spent on mental health services has fallen year on year since 2009. Meanwhile, waiting time targets have been missed and missed again.
"We need to see a boost in services across the board and it is vital that we provide emergency care for people suffering a mental health crisis. Introducing full-time, 24/7 mental health support in our A&E departments would help ensure people get the rapid care they need and end long waits for overstretched specialist teams to arrive.
"We also know that the police are often the first emergency service to arrive when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. Cutting the time it takes for people to receive specialist support makes a huge difference and joint cars have been hugely successful in other parts of the country. We need a revolution in the way we treat mental ill health. Embedding mental health professionals in front line emergency health and police services would be a big step in the right direction.
"Our plans would create a rapid reaction force to support people suffering a mental health crisis and get them the care they need at the earliest possible opportunity."