LIBERAL Democrats in Scotland complained yesterday that ambulance paramedics had to deal with more than 10,000 call-outs to people with mental health problems last year.
The high demand is linked to cuts in mental healthcare provision — which Lib Dems enabled the Tories to slash when the two parties governed Britain in coalition.
The Scottish Lib Dems submitted a freedom of information request and discovered that paramedics had been called out to 10,895 cases involving mental health problems last year, and almost 55,000 psychiatric call-outs since 2012-13.
The party said the number could indicate a failure to intervene earlier to provide mentally ill people with the services they need — but failed to mention the role of their Westminster colleagues in implementing cuts to the NHS in England under the 2010-15 Con-Dem coalition government.
Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The work that our emergency services do is incredible. However, these new figures demonstrate the scale of the challenge they face.
“While there will, of course, be people for whom an ambulance is the most appropriate service, for others a call-out will be testament to the failure of other services to intervene and provide the treatment they need earlier.”
The Scottish government published its new 10-year mental health strategy in March, including a commitment to spend £300 million over the next five years.
Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said such problems should be treated with “the same commitment and drive” as physical ill health, with interventions “as early as possible to prevent issues developing.”