Claims have been made that NHS Grampian has been “left behind” after it was revealed under half of young people are able to access mental health services within 18 weeks.
New figures provided by the Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland reveals the north-east health board is currently the second-worst performing in the country when it comes to achieving the 90% target for the maximum 18 weeks from referral to treatment in specialist child and adult mental health services (CAMHS).
Just 48.1% of Grampian’s patients were referred within the target waiting time.
North East MSP Mike Rumbles said it is “unacceptable” that those who need treatment the most are left to wait beyond 18 weeks, adding NHS Grampian has been “left behind”.
He said: “The mental health of young people is important for all of our futures.
“It is time the government looked at the impact this underfunding has caused and fund our health boards as patients deserve.
“By the Scottish Government’s own figures, NHS Grampian has been underfunded by a total of £165.6 million over the past 10 years.”
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “Our performance against the 18-week target is slowly improving. Waiting time compliance has improved from 39.% in March 2018 to 48.1%.
“We are the lowest staffed board in Scotland but we have a plan for funding to increase staffing levels over the next five years.
“We continue to prioritise and see a higher proportion of longest waits and continue to maintain access to patients requiring an urgent appointment (within seven days) or an emergency appointment (within 24 hours).
“There are currently 108 young people waiting over 18 weeks, compared to 147 waiting in July 2018.
“Of these, 106 have already had their CHOICE (assessment) appointment. Patients generally wait two to seven weeks for their CHOICE appointment. This is a very comprehensive assessment appointment which enables us to prioritise cases and meet demand.
“ISD figures only measure the second appointment, not the first, which has an impact on our performance against the target.”
Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said: “Demand is increasing as people become more aware of mental-health issues and seek support.
“But too many children and young people are experiencing waits that are too long and this is completely unacceptable.
“Many boards are still not meeting the waiting times.”