Colin Smyth MSP
Local Labour MSP has accused the SNP Government of failing children and young patients awaiting treatment at Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the Scottish Borders.
The criticism comes as shocking figures released by the Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland yesterday (4 September) showed that in April and May 2018, 57.6% of children had to wait beyond the eighteen weeks’ legal maximum to get treatment.
CAMHS comprises of a range of professionals with relevant expertise – including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers – to asses, care for and treat children and young people who are experiencing mental health problems.
In the three months to June this year 59 patients started treatment with the CAMHS team. Only 18 of these patients were seen with eighteen weeks with 33 waiting over eighteen weeks, one patient waited longer than 36 weeks to begin treatment. No figures were provided by NHS Borders for June this year. In the same period last year 100% of patients were seen within the eighteen weeks’ legal maximum time to await treatment.
Colin Smyth MSP said, “Around a fifth of adolescents will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their early life. These figures show the complete failure by the Scottish Government to ensure our vulnerable children and young people referred to CAMHS receive the urgent care and treatment they require.
When a child reaches out for help and is then told they will have to wait more than four months before even being seen, it places huge strain on both the child and their family. Mental health services are failing to deliver, because the Scottish Government are not putting adequate resources into mental health care. If a child had broken their leg and had to wait more than 18 weeks before being seen by a doctor, there would be a national outcry. Why does the SNP Government think it is acceptable just because it is a mental health condition?
The longer a child waits for care and treatment from CAMHS, the more difficult their recovery comes. It’s clear the Scottish Government are simply paying lip service on the importance of improving mental health services. The Scottish Government needs to invest in access to counsellor in every secondary school as soon as possible to drastically improve the waiting times on treatment for our children and young people suffering from mental health symptoms.”