Child Neurodevelopmental Assessments

General Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at on 6 June 2024.

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Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

To ask the Scottish Government what the longest projected wait is, in years, for a neurodevelopmental assessment for a child currently on a national health service waiting list. (S6O-03543)

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

Long waits for neurodevelopmental support are unacceptable. However, we do not—as I have explained before in the chamber—currently collect waiting times for neurodevelopmental assessment. Child and adolescent mental health services statistics capture children who meet the CAMHS criteria. Children who require neurodevelopmental support are not reported in those statistics unless they have a comorbid mental health condition.

Our focus is on improving support. Our neurodevelopmental specification places an expectation on the NHS and children’s services to work together to implement standards in line with getting it right for every child. Crucially, local authorities have a statutory duty to identify and provide support for pupils who have additional support needs, regardless of their diagnosis. We are working with NHS boards and local authorities to improve the support that is available, and we have allocated £55.5 million to health boards in 2023-24 to improve mental health and neurodevelopmental services.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

If that is an answer, I do not know what I am doing in the Parliament. Let me help the minister: there are 24,096 children on NDAS waiting lists. Some councils and NHS boards do not even have lists, but NHS Ayrshire and Arran says that it will take 19 years and three months to clear its NDAS waiting list. NHS Highland does not have a list and neither does the council. Will the Government at least tell them to draw up a list so that we know how many children actually need help?

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

I assure the member that we are working with all NHS boards, including NHS Highland, to improve neurodevelopmental support and pathways. We are working with local authorities to ensure that support is there for children and young people, regardless of whether they have a diagnosis. As well as the investments in health boards, in recent years we have provided more than £1 million to fund five neurodevelopmental tests of change areas, including one in Highland. Those areas are focused on implementing the ND specification, including the delivery of GIRFEC and multi-agency working. We will continue to support health boards and local authorities to work together in line with the specification, to ensure that the support is there for the children who need it.