Cole-Hamilton uncovers “dreadful” longest child mental health waits

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today revealed that children waited up to two years for the mental health treatment they need in 2017/18, describing the new figures as "dreadful".

New statistics acquired by the party through freedom of information requests have shown Ayrshire and Arran, Fife, Grampian, Highland, Lothian all recorded cases of children waiting over a year for CAMHS before being treated in 2017/18.

They include children and young people waiting:

  • at least 729 days (2 years) in Highland
  • up to 600 days in Lothian
  • 475 days in Fife
  • 379 days in Ayrshire and Arran
  • 376 days in Grampian

After publishing the new figures, Mr Cole-Hamilton commented:

“It is dreadful to learn that children and young people have waited as much as two years for the mental health treatment they need. Waiting hundreds of days for help, when the SNP Government's target is already 126 days, must feel like a lifetime.

"It is particularly concerning that these waits were all recorded well after the Scottish Government published its mental health strategy. At the time charities and pressure groups said the strategy lacks ambition, detail and investment and these new figures are testament to that and the damage caused by going without a strategy altogether for 15 months.

"For years, the First Minister has repeatedly told us of her commitment to mental health but there is still little evidence of improvement. Staff are working around the clock but they simply don't have the support, resources and early intervention they and patients need.

"There aren't even any specialist mental health beds for children north of Dundee and there is no justification for forcing children to travel hundreds of miles from home for the care they need.

"Liberal Democrats demand better. We need a stepchange in mental health and an end to the continuing scandal of long mental health waits."

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