Youngster ‘waiting more than three years for mental health help’

New figures, revealed under Freedom of Information, were released by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Youngster ‘waiting more than three years for mental health help’ PA Media via PA Media
Freedom of Information: Willie Rennie said the SNP should be 'ashamed'.

One young person has been left waiting more than three years for specialist mental health help, new figures have revealed.

Details revealed under Freedom of Information showed that, as of October 1 last year, a wait of 1126 days had been recorded for one patient in the NHS Highlands area.

At the same time, NHS Highlands had 431 patients who had been waiting 12 months or more for an appointment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – the largest number anywhere in Scotland.

The data, compiled by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, also revealed that as of September 30, 2020 there were 26 patients in NHS Lothian who had been waiting two years or more for CAMHS help.

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In the NHS Fife area, as of December 8 last year, a patient had been waiting 826 days, while in NHS Ayrshire and Arran another patient had been waiting a total of 666 days by October 30.

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: “This shows the tragic state of child and adolescent mental health services even before the pandemic struck.

“The SNP should be ashamed.

“At a critical moment in their life children are waiting years for help. Staff are working around the clock but they’ve never had the support, resources or early interventions.”

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The Liberal Democrats released the figures ahead of Thursday’s Scottish Parliament elections, where Rennie’s party is hoping to make gains.

But he said if voting resulted in an SNP or pro-independence majority then “nothing will change”.

Speaking about the Holyrood election, the Lib Dem leader said: “The stark choice is between a nationalist majority that will prioritise independence or Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs who will put recovery first with a needle-sharp focus on Scotland’s mental health crisis.”

While the Scottish Government has set the target of at least 90% of patients waiting no more than 18 weeks for CAMHS care, Rennie insisted these “badly neglected services haven’t come close to meeting the treatment targets for seven years”.

The Lib Dem leader said his party had secured an extra £120m for mental health care during budget negotiations with the SNP.

But Rennie added that this was “only the start of my ambition”.

He declared: “I want an extra £400m to double staff training, put many more professionals into schools and GP surgeries for easy access, create new walk-in crisis centres, and abolish rejected referrals so there is no wrong door.”