Like Audit Scotland, we too share many concerns regarding the ability of NHS boards to meet waiting time targets for patients looking to access treatment.
It is estimated that around ten per cent of children and young people in Scotland have mental health problems that are so significant they impact on their daily lives. Timely access to healthcare is therefore vital.
However, figures indicate that the vast majority of health boards are failing to meet a 26-week waiting time target for those looking for treatment from specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), and are therefore clearly at risk of missing a Scottish Government target of an 18-week waiting time, which comes into force next month.
In addition, figures published by the Mental Welfare Commission indicate that the number of children being admitted to non-specialist units such as adult and paediatric wards has increased from 177 last year to 202, meaning they may not be getting the support required.
It is also worth noting that there is no secure/locked provision in Scotland for under-18s and no units for those with severe learning disabilities.
Those with forensic needs or challenging behaviour and learning disability are sometimes sent to units in England.
As the number of referrals increases, and the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists falls, the cost and impact of mental health conditions have not by and large been reflected by an increased investment in the Scottish mental health services.
We are at a crisis point and high level strategic management is required in order to get a grip on the situation and make these services fit for purpose.
The Scottish Government, local authorities and NHS Health Boards must act now before this situation gets any worse.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition comprising:
Spark of Genius
Who Cares? Scotland
Falkland House School