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Welcoming the findings of an NHS Quality Improvement Scotland report on the action needed to improve care for people with schizophrenia, Dr Michael Smith, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chair of the Public Affairs Committee for the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) in Scotland said: “This is a litmus test for the quality of mental health care in general.

“The Royal College agrees with service users [patients]: people with schizophrenia should be able to access the best quality of care. The right treatment and support can transform the lives of people with schizophrenia, so it’s right that our expectations of the NHS should be so much higher than they were in the past.

“People reading this report will be able to see how their local area measures up to national standards, and it is very important that we make full use of these findings.

“We need better information to be able to deliver improved services, and we need to maintain investment in schizophrenia care. But quality care is expensive.”

About one per cent of Scots have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and schizophrenia care accounts for about five per cent of total NHS costs.

Mental health is one of the three national priority areas for NHSScotland, yet a recent national mental health services report by the Scottish Executive showed that the additional funding going into the mental health services fell from 9% to 2.25% between 2000 and 2003. Over the same period, acute services funds grew from 6.5% to over 10%.