Alex Cole-Hamilton: we cannot leave children stranded on mental health waiting lists

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said we cannot leave children stranded on waiting lists for mental health services as new figures showed almost 100 children in Lothian had been waiting more than a year for treatment and were still to be seen by specialists as of March 2016.

New data on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) showed that six NHS boards missed the 18 week treatment target in the last reporting period.

In NHS Lothian 2,078 patients were still waiting for treatment as of 31 March 2016. 4.7% of them had waited more than a year. 50 children who were treated between January and March in NHS Lothian waited longer than a year to be seen.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

“The overall improvement we have seen does not detract from the huge challenges that CAMHS are facing in many areas of the country. These figures show that there are still almost 100 children in Lothian who have been waiting more than a year for mental health support and are still yet to be seen by specialists. This is utterly scandalous. These delays must feel a lifetime to patients and their families.

“We need to understand why Lothian is struggling so badly and what can be done to ensure patients and their families are not left to fend for themselves for months because services are not available.

“While the big improvement in Tayside is of course welcome, performance in Grampian has fallen again despite the SNP’s recovery plan for the region.

“What these figures underline is a clear need for increased investment in mental health services. That means additional mental health staff, new specialist beds north of Dundee and, crucially, progress on a new mental health strategy. We cannot drag our feet and leave children stranded on waiting lists.”

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