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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-15690: Miles Briggs (Lothian)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 28 March 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reports that delays in renewed treatment for chronic pain due to staff shortages have led to suicide attempts by some return patients, including the testimony given to the Cross Party Group on Chronic Pain by a patient from the NHS Lanarkshire area in March 2018.

Answered by: Aileen Campbell 4 May 2018

The Scottish Government places a high priority on mental health and the prevention of suicide. That is why we have a range of support on offer. In the first instance if anyone is being treated for chronic pain, and there is a change in their circumstances, they should contact the health professional or clinician handling their care to make them aware and to discuss this as soon as possible. GPs are also well placed to advise and guide people regarding appropriate treatment or management of symptoms. If people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair wish to talk to someone out of hours, they can call NHS24 on shortcode 111 or Samaritans, who provide confidential non-judgemental emotional support, on 116 123. Both these services are available 24 hours per day. Breathing Space, a telephone and web service, also offers free and confidential advice for people experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety, whatever the cause. This service can be contacted on 0800 83 85 87, 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday, and 6pm Friday through the weekend to 6am Monday.

In terms of waiting times, an additional £50 million has been made available to NHS Boards to improve waiting times for all stages of a person’s journey through the NHS – the outpatient consultation, any tests required and treatment. £6.2 million has been provided to NHS Lanarkshire as part of this initiative. Each Board makes the decision on where this funding is invested within their area, based on local service needs and priorities for investment.

Further to NHS Scotland's Information Services Division's consultation last year into the publication of chronic pain waiting times, it is carrying out further work over the next six months to explore the collection of waiting times data for return patients and will report on its findings later in 2018.

With regard to the reported shortage of chronic pain staff in Scotland, I refer the member to the answer to question S5W-15247 on 22 March 2018. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at