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Nearly 2,000 young patients left waiting a year or more for specialist mental health care in Scotland

Nearly 2,000 children and teenagers have been left waiting for specialist mental health care for at least a year in Scotland, according to official figures branded “damning” by psychiatrists.

New NHS Scotland data has revealed that, at the end of September, there were 1,978 patients who had been waiting 52 weeks or more for a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) appointment.

That is more than double the 959 young people who were waiting that long the previous September – despite efforts by Nicola Sturgeon’s government to meet its own 2023 target for 90% of young people to receive help within 18 weeks.

Ahead of the Holyrood Budget on Thursday, the figures prompted calls from service providers for a “radical transformation of our mental health services” enacted with the same zeal as the response to the coronavirus pandemic and with a focus on earlier interventions to prevent young people “giving up on their futures”.

According to the latest figures, there were a total of 11,816 young people waiting for an appointment by the end of September – just 78% of them who had been seen within 18 weeks.

Dr Helen Smith, chair of the CAMHS faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said the long waits for help highlighted the “many problems” with these services “across the length and breadth of the country”.

“The fact that our vulnerable children and young people are still waiting to be seen is, frankly, not good enough,” Dr Smith said. “We need them to be able to access the right support at the right time, from the correct services.”

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Source: The Independent, 8 December 2021


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