The Scottish Conservatives have accused the Government of “betraying” young mental health patients after figures revealed some are waiting up to three years to see a specialist.
The Tories obtained statistics using freedom of information legislation which revealed one patient in NHS Highland had waited 150 weeks for their first Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) appointment by the middle of 2023.
An NHS Tayside patient waited 111 weeks, and a patient in the Ayrshire and Arran health board area waited 91 weeks.
One NHS Lothian patient waited two years between CAMHS appointments.
Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “These appalling figures lay bare the betrayal of vulnerable young people in Scotland by Humza Yousaf and the SNP Government.
“The pandemic has worsened Scotland’s mental health crisis, particularly among young people, and waits of up to three years at a crucial time in their development are intolerable and life-threatening for those who are suicidal or in despair.
“CAMHS practitioners are doing all they can to match the enormous demand for their services – but they are completely overwhelmed.
“As with all areas of Scotland’s NHS, the capacity problems stem from dire workforce planning by successive SNP health secretaries.
“Humza Yousaf owes young mental health patients an apology for the dismal failure of his Covid recovery plan to clear CAMHS waiting times by March 2023.
“But the SNP’s failure predates the pandemic – they have never met their target for 90% of children and young people to start treatment within 18 weeks of referral since its introduction in 2014.”
Dr Kandarp Joshi, chair of CAMHS at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said the figures came as “no surprise”.
He said: “It’s quite unbelievable that the numbers are still way of the Scottish Government’s own targets.
“Our vulnerable children and young people deserve so much better than this.
“While we welcomed investment through the Mental Health and Renewal Fund, funding in real terms will have gone down due to inflation and ministers cannot assume that the job is now done.
“Spending in mental health support services at all levels needs to be sustained and planned to enable services across the country to meet the increasing demand.
“Again, we call on the Scottish Government to increase spending and keep their own promises of 10% of the total NHS spend going towards mental health and 1% for CAMHS.”
He added a £30m cut to services in the Scottish Budget must be “immediately restored”, warning the “toll on the mental health needs of our children and young people simply cannot be ignored”.
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.
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