Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 5 September 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Balfour Jeremy Balfour Conservative

I was recently contacted by a constituent whose teenage daughter has been left waiting by NHS Lothian for over 35 weeks for child and adolescent mental health services treatment. Meanwhile, her mental health has continued to deteriorate to a point where she is no longer able to attend school. The Scottish Government standard states that 90 per cent of children and young people should start treatment within 18 weeks of referral. Does the First Minister agree that this delay is unacceptable and will she intervene to ensure that my constituent’s daughter receives treatment immediately?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I thank Jeremy Balfour for raising the issue. Yes, I agree that waits of that length are not acceptable. If he wants to share the details with me—with his constituent’s permission—I will ensure that the health secretary looks into the case as a matter of urgency.

As I have said before, and as I said again when I launched the programme for Government, long waits for CAMHS are not acceptable. That is why we have set out a programme of work to reduce those waiting times, which includes additional investment and substantial reform of how we deliver services for young people who need mental health care and treatment. The wellbeing service that we are implementing over the next year is a crucial part of making sure that there are early intervention and preventative services available. That then helps to ensure that specialist services are available for those who need them most. This programme of work is extremely important and it is a priority for the Government. In the meantime, I would be happy to have Jeane Freeman look into the case.