Response to the report from the Children’s Commissioners to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

Published on July 1, 2015

Sophie Pilgrim, Director of Kindred Scotland, speaking for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, said:

“The report from the Children’s Commissioners to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child highlights many of the issues we have been campaigning on for some time.

“With a 35% increase in the number of children and young people seeking treatment over the last two years, mental health services are simply unable to cope and the report notes that through a lack of investment there has been a ‘significant impact on services’.  For example, almost half our NHS Boards are breaching Scottish Government 18-week targets on patients being able to access child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and 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.

“In addition, as the report highlights, an increasing number of children and young people are being treated in non-specialist adult and paediatric wards, not at all suited to their requirements.

“In this context it should be noted that Under Section 23 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2003, a responsibility is placed on NHS Boards to provide accommodation and services to meet the needs of persons under the age of 18. There is a risk that this will simply not happen if a young person is admitted to an adult mental health ward and we are delighted to note the Commissioners’ recommendation that this should only happen in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

“The Commissioners’ also supports SCSC’s call for establishing inpatient care for children with autism and learning disability.  The fact that there is no appropriate CAMHS hospital care in Scotland is simply a discrimination against these children.  Some children have to be sent to English hospitals which is extremely costly and detrimental to the holistic planning of CAMHS in Scotland.

“The report also highlights concerns over children who commit or at risk of committing serious crime. There is however only one CAMHS forensic team in Scotland. And while children and young people who have been sexually abused should be offered early intervention via CAMHS, this something they are simply not receiving due to increased referrals and understaffing, putting children at increased mental health risk when earlier intervention could have prevented this.

“All the evidence points to the clear advantages of early intervention to tackle those suffering and the clear costs to society of failing to do so as many of these young people become unemployed, turn to crime, or end up with long-term mental health conditions which could have been prevented through early intervention.

“The young people who require these services and indeed the families who support them are amongst the most vulnerable in our society and we must collectively look to ensure that they are given the support that they need. Demand for child and adolescent health services continues to increase. If the situation is allowed to continue, not only will the consequences be costly in the long term, they will also have a devastating effect on the young people and families involved.

“The message from the Children’s Commissioners is clear, further investment is needed or as a society we will be left to address the costs created by failing to address the needs of these vulnerable young people.”

Full report from the Children’s Commissioners to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child available at:

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