'Patients waiting more than 1,000 days for mental health treatment'

A Freedom of Information request set out the length of time patients are waiting for treatment.

‘Patients waiting more than 1,000 days for mental health treatment’ iStock

There are patients in Scottish health boards waiting more than 1,000 days for mental health treatment, new figures indicate.

According to a Freedom of Information request by the Scottish liberal Democrats, patients in NHS Fife, NHS Shetland and NHS Tayside have waited longer than that time to receive psychological therapies.

The longest that a person has been waiting to receive treatment was in NHS Fife at 1,482 days.

Under the current Scottish Government target, 90% of patients should start treatment for CAMHS and psychological therapies within 18 weeks of referral by March 2023.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex-Cole Hamilton, however, criticised the Government over its handling of the issue.

The Scottish Government has said that improvement plans are in place with seven health boards to enhance their CAMHS delivery.

Cole-Hamilton warned that the mental state of patients will worsen the longer they have to wait.

“The Government’s neglect of mental health is shocking. It’s becoming ever more apparent that they have no intention of clearing waiting lists and meeting their treatment time target,” he said.

“Patients cannot be put on hold for more than 1,000 days; their mental state will simply worsen with every day that passes.   

“We need actions that will be met, not targets that will be broken.  I am committed to bringing new hope for Scotland’s healthcare system.”

Cole-Hamilton set out his his party’s proposals to support mental health services in Scotland.

“On top of training hundreds of new counsellors, Scottish Liberal Democrats would make sure every school has access to a counsellor and ramp up training so that every workplace can get the benefit of a mental health first aid trainer,” he continued.

“We need to put the experience of staff at the heart of recovery- that’s why my party has repeatedly called for an urgent new Burnout Prevention Strategy and a Health and Social Care Assembly that will listen to healthcare workers and take their views forward.

“Mental health services are under huge pressure. It is time for new hope.”

Minister for Mental Wellbeing, Kevin Stewart, said the Government is working with mental health leads to implement recovery plans.

“Long waits for mental health treatment are unacceptable and we continue to work with health boards to ensure patients begin treatment within 18 weeks of referral,” he said.

“Improvement plans are in place in seven health boards to enhance their CAMHS delivery and we are monitoring progress closely.

“We are working with mental health leads in these boards to implement recovery plans.”

Stewart added: “Following our additional investment of £40m for CAMHS, latest national performance data shows over 5,000 children and young people began treatment in the last quarter – the highest ever recorded.

“We are on track to eliminate the majority of CAMHS and Psychological Therapies waiting times backlogs by March 2023.”

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