The proportion of the NHS budget spent on mental health services in Scotland fell last year, Scottish health minister Andy Kerr has confirmed.
Speaking to the Scottish parliament’s health committee, Kerr said that although NHS mental health funding had risen to £687m in 2004-5 it now made up a smaller percentage of the overall budget than in previous years.
Research carried out by the committee also found that 13 of Scotland’s 14 health boards cut the amount it spent on mental health last year, while the mental health specific grant has been pegged at £20m.
Committee members raised concerns that the findings suggested mental health was slipping down the executive’s list of priorities, but Kerr denied this. He said: “£687m is a significant amount of money. Maybe it isn’t growing at the same rate as other things in the budget but that is not a reflection of mental health not being important.”
He added that other parts of the system were investing more in mental health services but he had no figures on the amount spent by councils.