More than half of children with mental health conditions in Grampian are missing the NHS’s 18-week target for treatment, new figures have revealed.
Claims that vulnerable children are being “failed” were made when it emerged NHS Grampian was one of Scotland’s worst performing health boards for young people’s mental health.
Opposition politicians said mental health services were reaching crisis point when NHS data revealed 174 Grampian children failed to meet the 18-week target, a total which included 12 waiting upwards of eight months (36 weeks).
For the first three months of this year, only 43.3% of young patients were treated within 18-weeks in Grampian, the second lowest percentage in Scotland. Only NHS Borders (40%) had a worse record.
According to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) figures, four patients in NHS Highland waited more than a year for treatment with a total of 31 missing the target.
But Highland managed to see 81.4% of young patients within 18-weeks of referral, a statistic that still fell short of the official target of 90%.
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NHS Shetland and NHS Western Isles were among only four health boards to hit the target.
Tory MSP for Aberdeenshire West Alexander Burnett said: “The SNP government is failing vulnerable children across the north-east. Every day without treatment makes life more difficult for young people affected and puts enormous pressure on their families.
“These figures suggest the situation is fast approaching crisis point in Grampian.”
Across Scotland, a total of 118 children and young people waited more than a year to be seen in the first three months of 2019 – an increase of 237% on the 35 cases recorded in the same period last year.
NHS Grampian did not have anyone waiting that long in the first three months of this year, but there were 12 who waited between 36 and 52 weeks.
Long waits for children have been a long-standing problem in Grampian with one patient waiting 85 weeks to be seen in 2016 and another experiencing a 76-week long delay in 2017.
A NHS Grampian spokeswoman acknowledged that the board’s way of reporting data meant it had “some of the longest waits in Scotland”.
She said: “This must also be set in the context that we are also the lowest staffed board, with 53% less staff than the national average in the per 100,000 population.”
She added that waiting times were improving and the longest waits had been targeted.
Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said progress had been made in the treatment of young people but added that Mental Health Delivery Board had been set up to make further improvements.