Rennie challenges First Minister to end 3 year waits for mental health help

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today written to alert the First Minister to waits of up to three years for children and young people for mental health treatment, and to challenge the Scottish Government to share their plan for service recovery.

The intervention, during Mental Health Awareness Week, comes after Mr Rennie gathered statistics showing children and young people waiting up to 3 years 31 days to access mental health services.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Rennie wrote:

Dear First Minister,

I am writing to alert you to new mental health waiting time statistics I have published and to ask for an urgent response to the dire situation they show.

As you know, the Scottish Government has never met the 126-day treatment time target since it was introduced, and we have discussed on many occasions children waiting over a year.

However, the fresh statistics Scottish Liberal Democrats have gathered show just how much beyond that some children and young people are waiting. They include:

  • 1126 days in Highland (patient still waiting as of 1/10/2020)
  • 826 days in Fife (patient still waiting as of 8/12/2020)
  • 28 patients waiting over 2 years in Lothian (waits in excess of this aren't disclosed).

Worst still, these aren't isolated cases or the result of situations such as missed appointments. Just look at the figures for Lothian showing hundreds of children systematically waiting an age, both before and during the pandemic:

At a critical moment in their life children are waiting years for help. Staff are working tirelessly but still waits are worsening.

Our parties worked together on the budget earlier this year to agree £120 million extra for mental health - money which is now being allocated. I hope we can agree that service transformation is essential, meaning this must only be the start of the additional investment.

I would be grateful for details of your plans for service recovery. When do you anticipate that first, no child will wait longer than a year, and second, the 18-week target can be met?

As you know, I proposed a number of solutions during the election campaign and I hope that the new government will look closely at these.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Willie Rennie

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

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