10,000 children endure "atrocious" mental health waits

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today revealed the 18-week target for mental health care has been missed for more than 10,000 children and young people since it was introduced three years ago.

Since December 2014 the Scottish Government has set a standard for the NHS in Scotland to deliver a maximum wait of 18 weeks from a patient’s referral to treatment for specialist CAMH (child and adolescent mental health) services.

New analysis by the Scottish Liberal Democrats shows that between the introduction of this standard and 30 June 2017, 10,341 patients didn’t receive treatment within the 18-week time frame.

The 18-week target has never been met. The latest figures, published in September, showed it was met for just 80.7% of children - down from 83.6% in the previous quarter.

Speaking just after World Mental Health Day, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

"Since the 18-week referral to treatment standard was introduced in December 2014, the Scottish Government hasn't delivered the level of investment and support required to meet it. Now we know that 10,000 children have endured atrocious waits as a result.

"Not only has this important target never been met but we have uncovered children waiting over 600 days for the treatment they need. Staff are working incredibly hard but they are being let down too. It is essential that this heart-breaking situation is not allowed to continue.

"At the moment there is little prospect of change given the Scottish Government's recent mental health strategy, a blueprint for next ten years, was widely panned for its lack of ambition and detail. 

"That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling on the SNP Government to double CAMHS spending and create new specialist beds for children living north of Dundee to end the scandal of long journeys for treatment, and ensure they are adequately staffed to stop children being turned away as is presently the case. We would also introduce a mental health practitioner in every GP surgery and A&E department in the country.

"10,000 children have been failed already. Unless action is taken now thousands more young people suffering mental ill health will be failed in the years ahead."

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