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Tayside patients in ‘appalling’ waits for mental health help

Willie Rennie
Willie Rennie

Patients were forced into “appalling” waits for mental health treatment with staff shortages plunging Tayside’s performance into freefall.

Less than half (41.5%) of young people in the area were seen by the children and adolescent mental health service within the legal maximum of 18 weeks, Scottish Government figures for October to December 2017 revealed.

Tayside had the worst psychotherapy waiting times in the country with just 54.7% in the final quarter of last year seen within that target time.

The health board said they have struggled to recruit staff, which is leading to longer waits for some. But it said the most urgent referrals to CAMHS were seen within five days.

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: “These Tayside stats are nothing short of appalling.

“Staff are working around the clock but they aren’t getting anywhere near the support and resources they need.”

He said the Lib Dems have plans to “end the scandal of long waits and long journeys for treatment”, including doubling the CAMHS budget and putting dedicated mental health practitioners in every GP surgery and A&E in the country.

Anas Sarwar, for Scottish Labour, said early intervention is needed for mental health, such as school-based counselling.

“There is a crisis in mental health services across Scotland and it is letting vulnerable people down,” he added.

A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said the health board is among those feeling the effects of a national shortage of psychological staff, including CAMHS consultants.

“Regrettably, this has meant a longer wait for some patients,” she said. “However, patients should be reassured that all urgent referrals to the CAMHS service are seen within five days.

“Following previous unsuccessful attempts to recruit consultants to the CAMHS service, posts have been re-advertised and interviews are due to take place this month.”

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