NHS missing mental health targets

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Charities are calling for speedy improvements to the treatement of vulnerable children and young people struggling with mental health problems

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26th May 2015 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Scottish health boards are failing to reach targets for treating vulnerable children and young people with mental health services.

A coalition of children’s charities has today urged the government to act quickly to ensure NHS boards provide youngsters with the treatment they need as quickly as possible.

The new NHS figures indicate that for Scotland’s 14 health boards, 78.9% of young people are being seen within 18 weeks. However, the Scottish Government target was for 90% of people to be seen within this time frame.

Eight health boards are currently achieving the 18 week waiting time target, which came into affect in December 2014. Those which aren’t are: NHS Fife (80.7%), NHS Forth Valley (57.1%), NHS Grampian (73.6%), NHS Lothian (53.8%), NHS Shetland (83.3%) and NHS Tayside (34.7%).

Families usually experience months of waiting even before a referral to CAMHS. The consequent delay in diagnosis and appropriate support can result in crisis and the need for costly extra resources - Alex Orr

Alex Orr, policy adviser for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), said: "Families usually experience months of waiting even before a referral to child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) services. The consequent delay in diagnosis and appropriate support can result in crisis and the need for costly extra resources."

The call from the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) also follows a Scottish Government announcement to invest an additional £85m in mental health services.

The fund will partly be used to further improve CAMHS services, and bring down waiting times following a significant increase in demand in recent years.

Orr added: "As a coalition we are delighted that the Scottish Government has committed an additional £85m in mental health over the next five years and that this is to be partly to be used to address child and adolescent mental health waiting time targets.

“We would urge the Scottish Government to act quickly to ensure that thosehHealth boards who are failing to meet waiting time targets are given the support they need to do so, ensuring that those children and young people requiring these services do not miss out."

During the quarter ending March 2015, over 4,200 children and young people started treatment at CAMH services in Scotland. This is 35% increase over the last two years and thought to be mainly due to more people are seeking help.

The government’s new funding will also focus focus on better responses to mental health in primary care, promoting wellbeing through physical activity and improving patient rights, which is one of the elements of the forthcoming mental health bill.

Third sector service providers will be key to delivering new services, and there will be a focus on innovation and providing services in community settings.

Making the funding announcement, the minister responsible for mental health, Jamie Hepburn, said: "Mental health services are an absolute priority of this government. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our county and it’s vital that the health service is properly equipped to give them the support and treatment they need.

“We have been investing heavily for a number of years, and waiting times have come down significantly, despite an unprecedented rise in the number of people seeking help. Scotland was the first country in the UK to have a mental health waiting times target – a sign of how importantly we view this issue.”