A leading coalition of children’s service providers has called on the Scottish Government to plough its £25m share of additional UK Government spending on mental health services to be announced in the Budget to improve mental health services for vulnerable children and young people in Scotland.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) (see Notes to Editors for members) has written to Shona Robison MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing & Sport, calling for Scotland’s share of £250m extra for mental health services in England announced by the UK Government to go towards Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) north of the border.
The letter outlines that current services are at “crisis point” with many not fit for purpose, leading to hundreds of vulnerable young people missing out, or waiting a considerable period of time, for the treatment and support they require.
It also comes on top of Scottish Government figures that indicate that the numbers of those classified as having additional support needs (ASN), some of whom will require mental health services, continues to increase dramatically, from 69,587 in 2010 to 140,542 in 2014 (more than double the number).1
The SCSC believes that extra funding for CAMHS could help address and improve significantly key problem areas like:
Diagnosis and treatment wait times
Half of Scotland’s Health Boards are failing to meet an 18-week Scottish Government waiting time target for treatment from CAMHS which came into force in December 2014 and five are failing to meet a 26-week target dating from March 2013.2
This is set against a background of a 10 fold increase in waiting times for those waiting more than 13 weeks to access services from 20 in December 2013 to 226 in December 2014.
An increased number of children and young people being sent to non-specialist units
According to figures from the Mental Welfare Commission (MWC) the number of children and young people being admitted to non-specialist units such as adult and paediatric wards has increased from 177 last year to 202 (174 adult and 28 paediatric) meaning that they may not be getting the appropriate support they require.3
There is also no secure/locked provision in Scotland for under 18s - all 3 adolescent Inpatient Psychiatric Units are open wards and there are no units for those with a severe learning disability.
Thus those with challenging behaviours and learning disabilities are often being treated in unsuitable adult or paediatric wards, or being sent miles away from their families to England, a clearly distressing situation.
When it comes to psychiatric services, since 2011 only 22% of vacancies for doctors caring for those with learning disabilities has been filled (5 out of 23) and just over half (51%) of those dealing with child and adolescent psychiatry (19 out of 37).4
Sophie Pilgrim, Director of Kindred Scotland, speaking on behalf of the SCSC, commented:
“A society should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens and at the moment mental health services in Scotland are at breaking point.
“Due to a lack of adequate provision hundreds of vulnerable children and young people are being treated in unsuitable adult or paediatric wards, or being sent miles away from their families to England for treatment. There is also no secure inpatient provision in Scotland for those children and young people with mental health conditions. This is clearly a major concern for any organisation upholding the rights of the child in Scotland.
“Scotland aims to lead the way in promoting the wellbeing of children and this funding presents us with a momentous opportunity to rectify the situation and help those families that are in crisis. We urge that the Scottish Government takes this opportunity to go that extra mile and ensure that we have a range of mental health services available in Scotland for those who so vitally need it.”
1 Scottish Government, High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: December 2014. Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/TrendSpecialEducation
2 ISD Scotland, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Waiting Times in Scotland, Quarter ending 31st December 2014. Available at: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Waiting-Times/Publications/2015-02-24/2015-02-24-CAMHS-Report.pdf?
3 Mental Welfare Commission, Statistical Young People Monitoring 2013/14, 2014. Available at: http://www.mwcscot.org.uk/media/203515/young_person_monitoring_2013_2014.pdf
4 The Herald, Psychiatrist shortage looms as training posts are unfilled, 7th July 2014. Available at: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/health/psychiatrist-shortage-looms-as-training-posts-are-unfilled.24685600
For further information please contact Alex Orr at Orbit Communications on 0131 603 8996
Notes to Editors