Mental health support waiting times missed

Written by Tom Freeman on 7 March 2017 in News

Over 100 young people waiting longer than a year for child and adolescent mental health services

Image credit - stereotyp

The 18-week referral target for mental health services at the end of 2016 was missed across Scotland, according to the latest stats from NHS Scotland’s Information Services Division.

Across Scotland 77.5 per cent of mental health patients were seen within 18 weeks, while 82.5 per cent of children and young people were seen.

While the figures represent a modest improvement, the Scottish Government target is 90 per cent.


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In the final quarter of 2016, 8,520 children and young people were referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), but only 6,628 were accepted for treatment.

And of the 4,222 children who started treatment during the period, 101 had been waiting over a year to be seen.

Five health boards failed to meet the 18 week waiting time target for CAMHS. They were NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Fife, NHS Grampian, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Lothian.

Maureen Watt, Minister for Mental Health, said the overall reduction was “encouraging” but the Scottish Government will still push for its 90 per cent target.

“Our challenge now is to ensure this improvement is sustained, and to extend it to other parts of the country,” she said.

“In the coming weeks I will be publishing our new strategy for mental health. This will lay out how we will change services over the next decade, backed with £150 million of funding.”

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) said the figures showed there was a “postcode lottery” of provision.

A spokesperson said: “We know that half of all diagnosable mental health problems start before the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 21.

“As such it is vitally important that we radically improve mental health services and increase investment in these, with an overall aim of ensuring that children and young people get the help they need, when they need it.”

Scottish Labour have called for more support for school-based counselling services.

The party’s inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon said the new figures were a “national disgrace”.

“Labour’s plans for access to a counsellor for every school would cost a fraction of what the SNP propose to spend on mental health, and children’s organisations say they will make a real difference in terms of support,” she said.

Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It is a sign of this Scottish Government’s lack of ambition that they are celebrating figures showing most health boards still routinely missing waiting time targets.”

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