Scotland politics

Child mental health wait increases 'are horrifying'

A depressed teenager Image copyright Thinkstock

The number of young people waiting more than a year to be treated by mental health services has increased 10-fold in a year, according to figures released by Scottish Labour.

The party said the Scottish government "is letting down some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland".

Figures showed those waiting 53 weeks or more rose from 20 to 226.

The Scottish government said the numbers were due to tougher target times brought in to "drive progress".

A spokesman said £17m had been invested in improving services since 2009 and that it would continue to work to "ensure that all young people who need the services get them within the time they should expect".

The figures from the Information Services Division Scotland showed the majority of those waiting for services were under 18.

Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman Jenny Marra said: "Twenty vulnerable young people waiting over a year for treatment is 20 too many.

"For the figure to multiply by more than 10 is simply horrifying."

Action plans

Ms Marra added: "These children aren't even close to the waiting time target for mental health services - they are waiting over twice as long as the SNP want our NHS to aim for.

"This is a failure from the SNP government in Edinburgh. If these figures were A&E waiting times or delayed discharge it would be nothing short of a national scandal. We cannot allow these vulnerable children to be forgotten about."

The Scottish government said increased funding had seen the specialist child and adolescent mental health services workforce increase by 24% since 2009.

A spokesman said: "We have introduced the waiting times target that no-one will wait longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment for access to child and adolescent mental health services, while when they are assessed as needing to access a service more urgently they will be seen more quickly, sometimes on the same day.

"Half of all health boards are meeting that tougher target. Seven health boards are not yet meeting the target, but they all have action plans in place.

"We are right to drive progress and we are right to set an even tougher target, to ensure that we can accelerate progress, and to have put in the resources."

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