By Bill Heaney
Mental health problems are a major concern for thousands of people during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has expressed upset at new figures which reveal young people across Scotland have collectively endured waits of 2.5 million days over and above the 18-week waiting time target for mental health treatment.
Freedom of information requests submitted by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to each health board in Scotland revealed these astonishing figures which show children and young people awaiting CAMHS treatment waited a cumulative total of more 2,486,265 days on top of the target.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, pictured left, said: “Children needing mental health help in Scotland have been left waiting 2.5 million more days than they should have. That’s a scandal.
“It’s widely acknowledged that the next major public health problem coming down the tracks will take the form of mental health problems and these statistics prove we’re not ready.
“The system is under immense strain. For years vulnerable children across Scotland have been subjected to harrowing long waits for help. The pandemic and the backlog in appointments it has caused will only make this mountain harder to climb.
“We desperately need to see transformational investment in Scotland’s mental health services. Our NHS staff do an incredible job, but they need more money, staff and resources behind them to make sure this runs smoothly and no one falls through the gaps.
“Behind each of these numbers is a family racked with worry about a young person who is not doing well. The government has a duty to invest in this and ensure they get help when they ask for it not many months later.”
One in 8 senior mental health roles empty
Freedom of information requests submitted by Scottish Liberal Democrats to all 14 Scottish health boards reveals:
- 82 consultant psychiatrist roles out of 632 are currently vacant.
- Both NHS Western Isles and NHS Orkney do not have permanent consultant psychiatrists in place
- NHS Lothian and NHS Lanarkshire have the highest number of vacancies with 14.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:“Scottish Liberal Democrats have championed the cause of our national mental health for several years but the reality is that there is serious work still to be done.
“Even before the pandemic there were thousands of children waiting more than a year for treatment and no one seriously imagines that the situation has got better.
“These figures show gaping holes in mental health staffing. Not only is this bad for patients but it piles pressure on other services like accident and emergency.
“The Scottish Government must get serious about staffing. They must invest in a proper national health service recovery plan that includes proposals that ensure our national mental health is a priority and puts the staff and resources in place to make that happen.”
Top picture: Gartnavel Royal Hospital at Anniesland in Glasgow.