Half Scotland’s Health Boards fail to meet waiting time target to access child and adolescent mental health services

Published on February 24, 2015
  • NHS Scotland as a whole fails to meet target dating from March 2013
  • 5 health boards fail to meet target dating from March 2013: NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Tayside, NHS Grampian, NHS Lothian

A leading coalition of independent and third sector children and young people’s service providers has renewed its call on the Scottish Government to act urgently and ensure that NHS Health Boards achieve waiting time targets for access to children and adolescent services.

The call from the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) (see Notes to Editors for members) comes as new figures are published today (24th February) from the Information Services Division of National Services Scotland, part of NHS Scotland.

The Scottish Government set a target for the NHS in Scotland to deliver a maximum waiting time of 26 weeks from a patient’s referral to treatment for specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) services from March 2013, reducing to 18 weeks from December 2014. The target should be delivered for at least 90% of patients.

Covering the quarter from October to December 2014, these new figures indicate that for Scotland’s 14 Health Boards as a whole 86% of people are being seen within the 26-week target dating from March 2013 and 78.9% for the target to be reached by December last year. Both these are failing to reach the 90% set by the Scottish Government.

9 of the 14 Health Boards have currently achieved this 26-week waiting time target from March 2013, with the 5 who haven’t being NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Tayside, NHS Grampian and NHS Lothian.

And only half of the 14 Health Boards currently achieve the 18-week target which came into force in December 2014.

The NHS in Scotland provides mental health services for children and young people with a wide range of mental health conditions including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, behaviour problems, depression and early onset psychosis.

Key Points:

  • NHS Fife - only 76.7% of people were seen within the 18-week period and 82.5% within the 26-week period.
  • NHS Forth Valley - only 56.6% were seen within the 18-week period and 72.0% within the 26-week period.
  • NHS Grampian - only 51.1% were seen within the 18-week period and 77.5% within the 26-week period.
  • NHS Lothian- only 54.2% were seen within the 18-week period and 63.5% within the 26-week period.
  • NHS Tayside - only 52.1% were seen within the 18-week period and 57.5% within the 26-week period
  • The only Health Boards to currently achieve the 18-week target (which came into force in December 2014) are NHS Borders, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley, NHS Highland, NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland and NHS Western isles.

The SCSC has written to the Scottish Government on this issue and repeated its call for higher-level strategic management and for urgent action to address a worrying shortage of educational psychologists and psychiatrists being recruited to address children and mental health issues.

Sophie Pilgrim, Director of Kindred Scotland, speaking on behalf of the SCSC, said:

“As a coalition we were already very alarmed at these waiting time figures from some Health Boards, which compound our concerns and confirm that many do not have the resources to cope with demand. It is those children and young people requiring these services who are missing out, the most vulnerable in our society.

“We are at a crisis point and high level strategic management is required in order to get a grip on the situation. That is why we are renewing our plea to the Scottish Government, urging it to act now before this situation gets any worse.

"Families usually experience months of waiting even before a referral to CAMHS.  The consequent delay in diagnosis and appropriate support can result in crisis and the need for costly extra resources."


 1 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Waiting Times in Scotland, Quarter ending 31st December 2014. Available at -


For further information please contact Alex Orr, Policy Adviser to the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, on 0131 603 8996 or [email protected]

Notes to Editors

  1. The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) is a policy-focused collaboration between leading independent and third sector service providers who have come together to work with political and other key stakeholders to help improve the delivery of children and young people’s services. Its members deliver specialist care and education services for children and young people with complex needs, such as learning difficulties and learning disabilities, as well as direct help and support for them and their families. They also provide independent advocacy, advice and representation for children and young people with care experience.
  1. Members of the SCSC are:
  • Falkland House School: With over 30 years’ experience, Falkland House School in Fife specialises in the care and education of boys who have additional support needs. It provides 39 and 52 week residential and day places to boys from early primary age through to 18 years old, taking referrals from all regions in Scotland and the UK.
  • Mindroom: Scottish charity dedicated to creating awareness of all kinds of learning difficulties. It also provides one-to-one support to families and offer help, advice and training to individuals and organisations who work with people with learning difficulties.
  • Spark of Genius: An independent organisation offering residential care, education, autism services, post-16 employability programmes and adult services throughout the UK. It enables children, young people and adults who need a variety of support to achieve their potential.
  • Who Cares? Scotland: Third sector independent advocacy organisation that provides individual and collective advocacy to children and young people with care experience across Scotland. It has been working with children and young people for 35 years and uses this experience to campaign, lobby and speak out both with them and on their behalf. This ensures that their views, needs and wishes are being sought, heard and listened to by local and national government.
  • Young Foundations: Provides a range of services across the UK for children and young people - with or without learning disabilities or mental ill-health - through residential care for teenagers, transition care for young adults and fostering.
  • Kindred: Provides information, advocacy and emotional support to parents/carers of children and young people with additional support needs.


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