A coalition of children and young people’s service providers, is calling on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to increase NHS Scotland expenditure on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to reach a minimum of 1%.
The call from the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) (see Notes to Editors for members) comes on the back of figures obtained from an answer to a Parliamentary Question from Jim Hume MSP. This highlights that only 0.45% of NHS Scotland expenditure was on child and adolescent mental health, with all 14 of the individual Health Boards spending 0.7% or less on the same area.1
These range from 0.08% for NHS Fife to 0.7% in NHS Lothian (see Notes to Editors for full list by Health Board). By contrast, in England 0.7% of the NHS budget is spent on CAMHS, 7% of the total mental health budget.
Just over £45.2m is currently spent on child and adolescent mental health in Scotland, amounting to a mere 5.56% of the mental health budget and 0.45% of the total NHS budget.2 Increasing the budget to £100.5m, an additional £55.3m, to match a mere 1% of NHS expenditure, would mean that 12.3% of the mental health budget would be spent on child and adolescent mental health.
Estimates vary, but research suggests that 20% of children have a mental health problem in any given year, and about 10% at any one time. These include conditions such as depression, anxiety, suicide, OCD and self-harm.
The figures are set against CAMHS in Scotland being under increasing pressure due to a 32% increase in the number of those starting treatment over the last two years.3 This is then coupled with the fact that six out of 14 Health Boards are currently failing to achieve the Scottish Government’s 18-week waiting time target from a patient’s referral to treatment for specialist CAMHS from December 2014.4
The SCSC believes that if Health Boards were to increase expenditure on CAMHS, this would not only address diagnosis and treatment waiting times, but also the issue of addressing increasing number of children and young people being sent to non-specialist units.
The long-term cost to society of failing to treat these conditions is well-established, with many of these young people become unemployed, turning to crime, or ending up with long-term mental health conditions which could have been prevented through early intervention.
Sophie Pilgrim, Director of Kindred Scotland, speaking on behalf of the SCSC, said:
“As a coalition it is staggering to find that only 0.45% of the NHS Scotland budget is being spent on CAMHS, amounting to just over 5.5% of the total mental health budget. Yet we know that 1 in 5 children have a mental health condition in any given year and all the evidence points to the clear advantages of early intervention to tackle those suffering and the long-term cost to society of failing to do so.
“We would urge that the Scottish Government looks at radically rebalancing the NHS budget to ensure that we are increasing the proportion of spend on child and adolescent mental health services.
“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 and health board expenditure must be adapted in order to meet this need. 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.”
1 ISD Scotland, Child and Adolescent mental health expenditure 2013-14, Scottish Health Service Costs, Report R300, R04LSX and SFR 8.3.
2 ISD Scotland, Op. Cit.
3 NHS Information Services Division, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Waiting Times in Scotland, 26th May 2015. Available at: https://isdscotland.scot.nhs.uk/Health-Topics/Waiting-Times/Publications/2015-05-26/2015-05-26-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
|NHS Board||Child and Adolescent mental health expenditure (£000)||Total expenditure (£000)||Child and Adolescent mental health expenditure (%)|
|NHS Ayrshire and Arran||£3,349||£679,193||0.49%|
|NHS Dumfries and Galloway||£875||£277,939||0.31%|
|NHS Forth Valley||£1,967||£487,177||0.40%|
|NHS Glasgow and Greater Clyde||£15,876||£2,682,038||0.59%|
|NHS Western Isles||£154||£63,572||0.24%|