NHS Grampian is managing to “recruit easily” to posts within its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, despite previous challenges, its clinical director has claimed.
The improvements have come despite the unit being the second lowest staffed in the country with 53.6 full-time equivalent staff per 100,000 population – the national average is 98 – but health bosses say improvements made over the last 24 months have helped with recruitment challenges.
Dr Lynne Taylor, clinical director of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), said: “We’re recruiting easily to posts now and we’re managing to attract staff from outwith the area as well.
“For a recent post we had advertised, we had 10 applicants, so we’re fully able to recruit to all posts
“The only area we’re not recruiting to as easily is psychiatry posts but that’s a national shortage rather than a local issue.
“The vacancy rate for nursing in Grampian is quite high but our vacancy rate here is extremely low at the moment as we’ve been able to fill posts.”
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
As reported in an earlier edition of the Evening Express, the health board has struggled to meet Scottish Government waiting time targets for children who need access to mental health services.
But it is on course to meet the target of seeing 90% of children within 80 weeks by the summer – six months ahead of schedule.
A service redesign and move to a new dedicated facility at the Links Unit, City Hospital, has helped tackle long waits and attract staff.
The service has also developed a nurse-led unscheduled care team who have “protected time” to deal with any referrals that come in 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, meaning clinicians are not forced to cancel scheduled appointments for emergency cases.
Dr Taylor added: “Compare it to a couple of years ago when it was really hard to recruit to the service because waiting times were long, staff were spread over three different sites in Aberdeen and another site in Moray, and communication and networking was really tough.”