A whistleblower claims that mental health nurses are being driven out of the NHS as a result of workloads and patient waiting times of up to two years.

A senior member of nursing staff told the Glasgow Times that many of her colleagues have reached ‘breaking point’ due to funding cuts and the stress caused by the burden of more people than ever before relying on specialist NHS services.

The worker also claims that Greater Glasgow and Clyde – alongside other health boards - are set to impose further cuts to budgets, leaving them with major concerns about how services will cope.

Our source told us that some patients are now facing a 24-month wait to be assessed for ADHD and other complex conditions.

She also claims that a decision by the Scottish Government to award a contract worth millions to a private health care firm based in England to provide typing therapy to cut patient waiting lists has been labelled as ‘backdoor privatisation’.

The nurse, whose identity we are protecting, says that morale in the city’s hospitals has reached an ‘all time low’ - with more workers leaving their jobs for the private sector or going off on long term sick.

Glasgow Times:

The source said: “The majority of staff feel overworked and undervalued. They are deciding to leave because they hate that we can’t offer people who are struggling the support they need as quickly as it should be delivered.

“The final straw for people like me, who have years of experience within the NHS, is that specialist mental health services are now experiencing another cut in funding. This is happening while a private firm is being paid millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to offer typing therapy, which we know isn’t suitable for every patient. It mainly works best for those with depression and anxiety, but that is the tip of the iceberg of what we are coping with.”

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A second source, who works alongside the senior nurse, says staff are becomingly increasingly dispirited.

She added: “There will be a high rate of patient disengagement as typing therapy is not favourable for many. Individuals with mental health conditions are being left without adequate support and treatment, which can have severe consequences for their well-being and overall quality of life.

“Moreover, the strain on remaining services has resulted in increased pressure on healthcare professionals, leading to burnout and decreased quality of care.

“People are going off sick, or worse still, turning their back on the NHS altogether. It’s a very worrying situation and I decided to speak out because ordinary people have no idea how bad it has become.”

Our sources says that the demand for help has rocketed since the pandemic and is now calling for policymakers and healthcare providers to recognise this with additional funding.

They also raised concerns about community mental health services and the toll delays are having on patients as the Scottish Government get set to slash spending on the sector by around £30m.

News of the drop in funding was announced in a letter to the Finance and Public Administration Committee by Deputy First Minister Shona Robison.

Glasgow Times: Deputy First Minister Shona RobisonDeputy First Minister Shona Robison (Image: Supplied)

The source added: “Community services are essential for individuals with mental health conditions who require ongoing support and treatment but do not require hospitalisation. Lack of funding is leading to longer waiting times and limited access to essential care. For example, the waiting list for ADHD assessment is currently sitting at two years. 

“ADHD can in be treated with medication in some cases, but this can’t be prescribed until an assessment takes place.

“It’s soul-destroying because there’s no early intervention for people whose needs then become increasingly complex. For example, if you need to see a psychologist the waiting list is now over a year and public sector therapy has a two month wait.

Glasgow Times:

“It’s unjust on dedicated staff and practitioners. I know if I left my job tomorrow, my position wouldn’t be replaced and there are no temporary contracts being offered to help plug the staffing gaps. It just feels like a hopeless situation.

“We want to offer the best possible care to our patients but it’s being made impossible by those in control of the purse strings.”

Mental Wellbeing Minister Maree Todd says she is committed to improving provision in primary care settings and focus more on prevention and early intervention in the community.

She said: “While the 2024-25 Budget is the most challenging to be delivered under devolution, it provides over £19.5 billion for the health and social care portfolio and over £13.2 billion to frontline NHS Boards for health improvement and delivery of effective care in their local areas.  More than £1.3 billion will support mental health services, with £290.2 million direct investment – more than double that in 2020/21 – enabling record numbers of staff to provide more varied support and services to a larger number of people than ever before.”

A spokesperson for Greater Glasgow and Clyde added: "We aim to help every person who comes to us, prioritising those with the highest clinical risk and those who have been waiting the longest. 

"Waiting times for CAMHS have significantly improved and continue to exceed national target, with 97% of patients currently waiting less than 18 weeks to be seen. 

"Access to Psychological Therapies has also improved with current performance (91%) exceeding the national target of 90%.

"We continue to modernise our mental health workforce with new nursing career pathways and range of advanced practice roles such as ANPs, non-medical prescribers and nurse consultants being introduced. 

"Work is also continuing in relation to the neurodevelopmental pathway across both adult and children’s mental health services in response to increasing demand for ADHD services that we are experiencing. 

"Like all NHS boards, we must live within our means. NHS GGC is currently developing our financial plan for 2024/25. No decisions have been made about services and we will engage staff, patients and other stakeholders as plans are finalised."