City youngsters wait longer for mental health treatment

Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Morningside. Picture: Julie Bull
Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Morningside. Picture: Julie Bull
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CHILDREN and young people with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems are having to wait nearly three times as long for treatment in Edinburgh as in Glasgow.

Official statistics for NHS Lothian between October and December last year showed only 54.2 per cent of under-18s needing Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were seen within the Scottish Government’s new target time of 18 weeks and only 63.5 per cent within the previous target of 26 weeks.

It is the children and young people requiring these services who are missing out, the most vulnerable in our society.”

Jo Anderson

Meanwhile, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde managed 98.7 per cent within 18 weeks and 99.9 per cent within 26 weeks.

The average waiting time in Lothian was 17 weeks, while in Greater Glasgow & Clyde it was six weeks,

Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart claimed the Scottish Government was failing children and young people with mental health problems in the Capital.

He said: “These figures are shocking and it is further proof that the SNP government has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to healthcare.

“It is clear that children and young people in Edinburgh are being failed and have been left struggling to get the support and treatment they need.

“Mental health should not be treated any differently to physical health. You would never expect a child to wait over six months to receive treatment for a broken leg, so why is it acceptable for a child to wait that long to access these services?”

Jo Anderson, of mental health charity SAMH, said the NHS Lothian figures were disappointing.

“The impact of waiting on individuals is significant – long waits can make an existing mental health problem worse, damage relationships, stop a person from attending school or work and have an enduring effect on their quality of life,” she said. “Early intervention is key to treating mental health problems.”

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition said it was “very alarmed” at the waiting time statistics, which it said confirmed there were not enough resources to cope with demand.

A spokesman added: “It is the children and young people requiring these services who are missing out, the most vulnerable in our society.

“We are at a crisis point and high level strategic management is required in order to get a grip on the situation. We are urging the Scottish Government to act now before this situation gets any worse.”

Professor Alex McMahon, NHS Lothian director of strategic planning, said: “NHS Lothian has recognised the increased demand upon CAMHS and the need to improve access for children and young people.

“In June last year, we allocated additional funding and appointed several new members of staff and the numbers of patients waiting for treatment are reducing every month.”