Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed that children were turned away from a new specialist mental health unit on 21 occasions in the year since it opened due to a lack of available staff and beds.
The figures were published in response to written parliamentary questions lodged by the party’s health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP.
The 12-bed unit, only opened in May 2015, had to cordon off four of its beds in January “to ensure patient safety in respect of staffing levels”.
Responding to the new figures, Alex Cole-MSP commented:
“It is astounding that on 21 occasions vulnerable children were turned away from this brand new specialist mental health unit due to the lack of beds and staff.
“Children are already expected to travel hundreds of miles from Stornoway and Dingwall to a hospital in Dundee for mental health care. Now we find out that the lack of resources at this new unit has caused many to be told to go elsewhere. They could be treated even further away from home, privately or in wards that are less suited to their needs.
“This shows the urgent need to invest in CAMHS, train and give staff the support they need, and establish new specialist mental health units north of Dundee.
“We need a step change in mental health to guarantee there are beds close to home when children desperately need them and to end the scandal of children waiting over a year for treatment.”