Rennie reveals “appalling” longest child mental health waits

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie today revealed that children are currently waiting almost two years for the essential mental health treatment they need, highlighting the importance of his party’s commitment to delivering a stepchange in mental health.

New statistics acquired by the party through freedom of information requests have shown Lothian, Grampian, Highland, Fife and Ayrshire and Arran all recorded cases of children waiting over a year for mental health treatment in 2016/17 or on their current waiting lists.

They include children and young people waiting:

  • 666 days in Lothian before starting treatment in 2016/17
  • 623 days in Highland before starting treatment in 2016/17
  • 611 days in Fife currently
  • 448 days in Ayrshire and Arran currently
  • 385 days in Grampian before starting treatment in 2016/17

After publishing the new figures, Mr Rennie commented:

“It is appalling to learn that children and young people are still waiting almost two years for the mental health treatment they need. Waiting more than 600 days for help must feel like a lifetime. SNP ministers should hang their heads in shame.

“These new statistics show why SNP Government was so wrong to reject the opportunity to invest to transform mental health services in its budget. It shows the damage caused by its letting the mental health strategy expire for 15 months. Its replacement has finally been published but charities and pressure groups have rightly declared it lacks ambition, detail and investment.

“For years, the First Minister has told me time after time of her commitment to mental health but there is very little evidence of improvement. The urgency and the scale of the investment that we need to see is simply not there.

“Staff are doing their best but there is nowhere near enough resources or early interventions. This is yet another example of the SNP’s obsession with independence taking its toll.

“Only the Liberal Democrats have set out a comprehensive and positive plan that will deliver a step change in mental health. This includes ending the underfunding of mental health, new units for children and more professionals at more locations capable of delivering therapies. That is the way to give every child a chance of getting on in life.”

Dr Jean Davis, Liberal Democrat candidate for Ross, Skye and Lochaber added:

“It is intolerable to learn that children, last year and right now, have been waiting over 600 days for mental health treatment in the Highlands.

“To make matters worse, there are still no specialist mental health beds for children north of Dundee. There is no justification for forcing children to travel hundreds of miles from home for the treatment they need.

“Only the Liberal Democrats will deliver the stepchange in mental health that is so desperately needed.”

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