RCPCH Scotland responds to the Programme for Government 2023-24

The Scottish Government has announced its Programme for Government 2023-24 and has outlined a number of policies and announcements related to child health.
View from atop a hill at sunset

RCPCH Officer for Scotland, Dr Mairi Stark, said:

As a College we remain cautiously optimistic about the latest Programme for Government and urgently call on Government to provide further details of their plans for children and young people. 

We were particularly pleased to hear about the continued investment in the Scottish Child Payment and the commitment to increase this payment in line with inflation. We are eager to see further details on how the cross-government programmes will support the reduction of child poverty.  

Regarding mental health, RCPCH Scotland have continuously called for further investment in CAMHS services, with a particular emphasis on early intervention as a means for reducing the long-term effects caused by mental health problems. As such, it’s good to see that the Government have committed to delivering a Mental Health & Wellbeing Delivery Plan and accompanying Workforce Action Plan. However, we require more information on how health boards will be supported to reach the CAMHS waiting times standard.

The First Minister has also listened to our calls on the health and environmental harms of disposable e-cigarettes on young people and has announced a consultation banning the sale of single use vapes. We look forward to sharing our views and reiterating our call for a ban. 

Finally, the expansion of universal free school meal provision to Primary 6 and Primary 7 pupils during 2026 is an excellent step-forward in safeguarding child health. We routinely call for free school meals for all primary school children, and we would urge the Government and COSLA to action this as soon as possible as it is vitally important children are provided with a nutritious meal at school.