Figures released by Public Health Scotland have revealed alarming NHS Borders and NHS Lothian waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
The statistics, which were published in September, show that only 42.9% of CAMHS referrals in NHS Borders and 51.7% in NHS Lothian were seen within 18 weeks. The Scottish Government target is for 90% of referrals to be seen within this time frame.
By June 2020, almost a quarter of referrals in NHS Lothian and 4% of referrals in the Borders had to wait over a year before being seen.
High-profile medical professionals have recently raised concerns about the lack of funding for CAMHS. Dr Elaine Lockhart, chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, stated that the need to improve CAMHS is not being matched by funding.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:
“The Scottish Government needs to get its act together over mental health services for young people.
“It’s clear that the current level of funding is insufficient to meet growing mental health needs. These services account for under 1% of NHS spending and just 6% of mental health spending, yet CAMHS is essential to preventing further mental health issues down the line.
“The figures detailing 53+ week waits are particularly worrying. No one should have to wait over a year for the support they need, and it is a sad indictment of current CAMHS services that patients are left without help for so long.
“At a time when people’s mental health is under additional strain, it is vital that the SNP provide the funding required to meet their referrals target and prevent this crisis from turning into a catastrophe.”