Homepage Latest news Mental Welfare Commission - the next three years

Mental Welfare Commission - the next three years

Publication date: 11 May, 2023

Pressure on services, commitment to do more, and opportunity to make radical legal changes

Scotland’s Mental Welfare Commission today published its strategy for the next three years, to March 2026. 

In the strategy, the Commission recognises the continued strain on health and care services, staff shortages and a growing need for care and treatment.

The Commission acknowledges these pressures on services, but pledges to continue its drive to maintain people’s rights and to call for improvements where it finds deficiencies. 

It also commits to making its own improvements, including the expansion of its local visits programme to include visits to community mental health and learning disability services across Scotland in addition to the hospital wards and units it already visits. In all of these visits, Commission staff talk to people receiving care and treatment and to staff, check on how the service is managed, and publish reports of their findings.

Julie Paterson, chief executive, Mental Welfare Commission, said:

“The increasing pressures on health and social care services mean it is not easy for the vulnerable people we pledge to focus on, or for the health and care professionals who are working hard to try to make the system operate effectively.

“In our role of protecting and promoting the human rights of people with mental illness, learning disability, dementia and related conditions, we are an independent voice. We keep in touch with how services are working on a day-to-day basis. 

“Through our daily phone line we offer advice to individuals and their families, and to health and care professionals. Through our visits, monitoring and investigations work we examine how services are operating and make recommendations for change to government and national and local health and care services. Our engagement team have their own lived experience of mental health services, and build strong connections with support groups and individuals.

“As times get tougher, these roles become even more crucial.”

Sandy Riddell, chair, Mental Welfare Commission, added:

“While this strategy has been carefully considered, we acknowledge that it may look significantly different by the time we reach March 2026 if the Scottish Government accepts the Scottish Mental Health Law Review’s recommendations relating to the Commission.

“The Review - which was published in September 2022 - recommends an increased role and wider responsibilities for the Mental Welfare Commission along with much wider changes to Scotland’s mental health and incapacity laws which are now over 20 years old.

“While we await the government’s decision, we are clear that we would welcome a strengthened role. If we can do more to help support and stand up for people in our communities who struggle with mental ill health or incapacity, we will do it. 

In the meantime, we hope this strategy shows our ambition to do all we can over the next three years, working independently, and working with others.”

In developing the strategy, the Mental Welfare Commission listened to representatives from many organisations and individuals, and took many comments on board.