Social worker shortages are leaving mental health patients in Scotland without “important” safeguards, sector leaders have said.

The Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW), Social Work Scotland and the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWC) issued the warning after MWC data revealed year-on-year falls in the proportion of emergency detentions for which mental health officers (MHO) gave consent.

MHOs – who are specialist mental health social workers – gave consent in just 36.6% of cases in 2022-23, down from 40.4% in 2021-22, with the rate having lagged below 50% for six years, said the MWC, in a report published last week.

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