Councillors caution over proposed mental health savings

Councillors have voiced concern over a proposal to reduce mental health spending in the coming financial year.

The apprehension came as elected members at Monday’s policy and resources committee saw papers relating to the 2018/19 budget for the integration joint board.

The board, which provides community health and social care services, is to be allocated funds of around £21 million by the council with a further £1.27 million to be met by NHS Shetland.

While councillors recommended the report to a meeting of the full council, where a decision on the budget will be made on Wednesday, a number of councillors were apprehensive about a proposed cut to mental health funding.

Shetland north member Alastair Cooper said: “I’m concerned about the saving of £200,000 in mental health.”

Mr Cooper said that he was aware of people “waiting long times for mental health services” and felt that the council should ensure that they have “a quick service and short waiting times before we embark on this”.

Councillors Stephen Leask and Ryan Thomson said that they shared Mr Cooper’s concerns while depute political leader Steven Coutts said that he would be “interested to hear what the thinking is there”.

Finance chief Jonathan Belford said that reports would be “required to understand what the detail of the proposal would be”.

Shetland south councillor Allison Duncan, who sits on the IJB, said that he had “to agree with what’s been said”, adding that he would ensure reports came back to the board on the matter.


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