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Welcome drop in number of young people with mental illness being treated in non-specialist wards, but more work still to be done

The Coalition responds to a report from the Mental Welfare Commission that shows a significant drop in the number of young people with mental illness being treated in non-specialist wards in Scotland for 2016-17:

“It is welcome to see the figures for admissions to non-specialist wards has gone from a high of 207 admissions across Scotland in 2014-15 involving 175 young people, to 71 admissions involving 66 young people in 2016-17.

“However, this is still too many and children and young people under the age of 18 who need hospital treatment for mental illness who are not being treated in a specialist unit that is designed to care for their age group.

“We have raised this issue previously with the Scottish Government and are glad to see a reversal in this trend and note that services have been working hard across the country to address this.

“It should be noted however that there are currently only 48 specialist hospital beds provided by the NHS in Scotland for adolescents with mental health problems, despite increasing demand. These are located in three CAMHS inpatient units (Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow) and there is a further six place unit for five to 12 year olds in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. There is no inpatient provision north of Dundee.

“We need a greater level of inpatient provision, as well as provision north of Dundee. The number of beds for children and young people recommended by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, for example, for the population of Scotland ranges between 125 and 208, far greater than the 54 currently provided.

“Although we welcome the reduced admissions to non-specialist wards we know that many families struggle with inadequate care and specialist support at home.

“The SCSC is also particularly concerned about inpatient provision for children with learning disability who have greater need that other children for specialist services.

“What is key however is that we ensure that there is a suitable provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, which can address issues earlier on, rather than allowing the condition of many children and young people to worsen and the having to be admitted to an inpatient ward.

“Yet, the most recent waiting time figures indicate that the NHS in Scotland, including five of the 14 regional health boards, failed to meet a Scottish Government 18-week waiting time target for children and young people to receive treatment from specialist CAMHS. This often leads to conditions getting considerably worse before any treatment is received.

“Through a greater provision of services and a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention, as outlined in the Scottish Government’s recent Mental Health Strategy, we can achieve the step-change required in the delivery of mental health services required for our children and young people.”

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The SCSC is a collection of leading independent and third sector service providers. Members deliver specialist care and education services for children and young people with complex needs and care experience.