I've called on the Scottish Government to deliver a step change in mental health at the upcoming budget after new statistics showed hundreds of children requiring mental health care waited longer than the Scottish Government’s guarantee.
The ISD Scotland statistics showed just six boards met the 18-week referral to treatment (RTT) standard for children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) during the last quarter. Across Scotland, just 78.8% of children started their treatment within the expected period, but this fell to less than 37.6% in NHS Grampian.
In NHS Lothian, 100 patients (16%) who started their treatment in the quarter had been waiting over a year for treatment. A further 54 who have still not started their treatment have been waiting over a year.
Other figures released today also showed longer waits for adults requiring psychological therapies. Just three health boards met the 18 week RTT standard. Of those who started treatment in the quarter ending September 2016, 134 patients waited over a year while 520 people still on waiting lists have been there for in excess of 12 months.
These appalling statistics are further evidence, not that it were needed, that we need a step change in the way that we treat mental health.
In NHS Lothian, my own health board area, 150 children have been forced to wait over a year for treatment. Waiting more than 12 months to receive help must feel like a lifetime for a child suffering from mental ill health.
In NHS Grampian, performance against this target has been falling for almost two years. Now just one in three children are seen within the 18 week waiting target and that is despite action plans that were meant to get services there back on track.
The SNP allowed our mental health strategy to expire and have reduced the share of the budget spent on mental health. Staff are working around the clock but they aren’t getting the support they need.
That is why we need a new strategy that will transform mental health services, record levels of funding and to end the long journeys for treatment by creating new specialist beds for children north of Dundee.
Ministers cannot drag their feet and leave children stranded on waiting lists any longer.