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.
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 - http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Waiting-Times/Publications/2015-02-24/2015-02-24-CAMHS-Report.pdf?
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