Conservatives make call over child mental health delays

Youth Ms Scanlon said the mental health of children could not afford to be neglected

Some children can face a wait of up to three and a half years before receiving treatment for mental health problems, an MSP has revealed.

The details were discovered by Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon through a freedom of information request.

She also learned that the top waiting times for adult psychology, psychiatric treatment and cognitive behavioural therapies could also run into years.

The Scottish government said it was committed to improving access times.

Start Quote

Action must be taken now to reduce these current waiting times”

End Quote Mary Scanlon Conservative MSP

A spokesman said: "No child should have to wait more than 26 weeks to begin treatment by March 2013."

The NHS figures revealed that child psychology waiting times ranged from 16 weeks in Dumfries and Galloway to 182 weeks in Tayside.

Ms Scanlon said the Scottish government should take immediate action to ensure it met its 26 week target.

"That a child in need of mental health treatment could be asked to wait for three and a half years to be seen is shocking," she said.

"Immediate action must be taken to reduce these waiting times as we simply cannot afford to neglect the mental health of Scottish children."

Specialist services

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We are committed to improving the speed of access to specialist child and adolescent mental health services.

He added: "We have been investing in specialist services to ensure children and young people are supported in the community as far as possible.

"We have also invested in increasing the specialist child and adolescent workforce - equating this year to £5.5m of ring-fenced money for specialist services."

Ms Scanlon also discovered that in Tayside the maximum wait was more than two years for adult psychology services and psychiatric treatment.

According to the figures, in the Grampian and Highland areas it can take more than two years to see a psychologist and in Dumfries and Galloway more than a year.

The longest waiting time for adult cognitive behavioural therapies was 112 weeks in NHS Highland, although this only applied in 5% of cases and nearly half of NHS boards failed to provide data.

NHS Tayside had the longest waits for adult psychology and psychiatry appointments at 134 weeks and 116 weeks respectively.

Ms Scanlon said: "Given that 47% of incapacity benefit claimants have a mental health problem, there must be an increase in resources for mental health, to give an opportunity to get back to work under the proposed welfare reform system."

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