More than a quarter of CAMHS patients waiting over 18 weeks for treatment

Written by Tom Freeman on 5 March 2019 in News

ISD figures for last quarter reveal wide regional variations in waiting times for children and young people needing mental health treatments

Teenagers - credit Michel G

More than a quarter of children and young people waiting for mental health treatments are waiting longer than the 18-week target, latest figures show.

There is also a varied service across Scotland.

Nine of Scotland’s 14 regional health boards have failed to meet the target to have 90 per cent treated within 18 weeks of referral, the latest figures from the Information Services Division (ISD) show.

In the three months to December, across Scotland the figure was 72.8 per cent, leaving 27.2 per cent waiting longer than 18 weeks for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

NHS Borders, NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside met the target for fewer than half of patients.

Children’s charities have called for greater investment in the service.

Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said: “It’s welcome that with there has been a seven per cent increase in the number of children and young people seen compared to the previous quarter and up 12 per cent compared to the same time last year.

“Our £250 million package of measures, outlined in the latest Programme for Government, will help see more children and young people get the support they need in the community, rather in the acute CAMHS settings that are currently covered by these statistics. We have also ensured additional funding to help boards improve their performance against these waiting times.”

A spokesperson for the SCSC acknowledged £250m investment, but said the service required “radical transformation” to take a more preventative role.

They said: “With mental health and the issues associated with it representing one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, we must ensure that children and young people are able to get the care and support they need, when they need it.

“This includes investing in greater community support and support at school, reducing the need for referral to specialist CAMHS.”

Scottish Labour’s shadow health secretary Monica Lennon called for “fresh plans” for CAMHS.

“It is a national scandal that 5,227 children and young people had to wait longer than the four and half month target for mental health treatment,” she said.

“Looking after the mental health and wellbeing of Scotland’s children and young people should be a national priority, but these figures show it is clearly not being treated as such by the SNP government.

 “Early intervention is vital when a young person is struggling with their mental health and a properly resourced NHS would deliver this.”

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