Edinburgh politicians blast Scottish Government for “failing” Lothian youths at crisis point

Labour and Conservative politicians have slammed the Scottish Government for “failing” Lothian’s young people who require urgent mental health treatment, after new data revealed the scale of the problem.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 4:55 am

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Figures from Public Health Scotland show that only 65 per cent of young people in Lothian had waited less than 18 weeks to begin vital mental health support.

Across Scotland 72.5 per cent of children start treatment within 18-weeks, putting Lothian well below the national average.

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Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP Sue Webber before the pandemic hit the government’s targets were consistently not met.

The government standard is that 90 per cent of children and young people should start treatment within 18 weeks of referral.

Local politicians from across the political spectrum have called out the government over failure to meet this target in Lothian.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said these figures are “nothing short of a scandal” and has demanded the government address the problems.

He said: “CAMHS services are in crisis - and nowhere is this crisis more severe than here in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said findings are “nothing short of a scandal”.

“We know the pandemic has had a serious impact on the mental health of our young people – the SNP Government simply cannot continue to fail them.”

Statistics have also revealed that of the 2,012 young Scots on the CAMHS waiting list who have waited over a year for treatment, 1,129 are in the Lothians.

NHS Lothian accounts for over half of all Scottish youths waiting over a year to access services, whereas other health boards, such as NHS Grampian, have no children waiting more than 12 months for treatment.

Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP Sue Webber said these l figures “lay bare the scale of the challenge ahead”.

She added: “This situation cannot be allowed to spiral any further out of control and I will be a strong voice for urgent mental health support to be directed towards young people.”

Covid-19 has significantly impacted NHS Lothian’s ability to address the issue of waiting times for mental health services.

Nurse Director at NHS Lothian, Professor Alex McMahon, said: "Waiting times for our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services have been longer than they should be, and before the start of the pandemic, we were working hard to reduce them.

“National lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions have unfortunately led to longer waiting times than before.”

However Ms Webber pointed out that before the pandemic hit the government’s targets were not met.

She said: “Even prior to the pandemic, the SNP Government weren’t hitting targets for vulnerable young people to begin mental health treatment. That simply isn’t acceptable.”

The government has developed a programme of enhanced support to tackle the long wait times.

NHS Lothian is one of seven health boards to be prioritised for this support.

Mental Wellbeing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We’re determined to reduce long waits for child and adolescent mental health services.

“To ensure this we are developing a programme of enhanced support for areas where waits are unacceptably long.

“NHS Lothian is one of seven Boards that we have prioritised for this enhanced improvement support.

“I met with NHS Lothian chief executive on Monday to discuss progress with this work, where I made clear that it is crucial that significant progress is made to stabilise services by clearing waiting time backlogs and that robust plans ensure that these backlogs do not build up again in the future.”

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