More mental health patients are being seen in the north-east within the target date than the Scottish average, new figures show.
Statistics released by ISD Scotland, which monitors the performance of the NHS, show 1,139 adult patients treated with psychological therapy in March were seen in 18 weeks from the date of their referral – which equates to 72.9% of patients.
The figures show a rate of just 62.1% of patients who have had an appointment with a mental health professional within the 18-week period throughout the rest of Scotland.
In the past year, the number of patients seen in the time frame in Grampian has dropped by 4% from 1,069 to 1,139.
However, the average for the whole of Scotland has dropped by 5.1% during that time.
Bosses at the health board praised the efforts of staff but said they hope to improve the statistics in the coming months.
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “These latest figures highlight the hard work put in by our staff to ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible. This is a real team effort and we are tremendously grateful to them for everything they do.
“We are by no means complacent and we hope to reduce the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks still further.”
Meanwhile, other figures released by the ISD details the poor state of child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) waiting times at NHS Grampian.
In December, just 48.8% of patients were seen in 18 weeks. For the final quarter of last year – between September and December – just 41.1% of youngsters were able to see a specialist in the allotted time.
NHS Borders ranked at the bottom of the table, hitting the target just 40% of the time.
On average across Scotland, 78.6% of referrals were seen in 18 weeks. The Scottish Government aims for the number of patients to be at 90% or above.
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The spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “We acknowledge the way data is reported in Grampian indicates we have some of the longest waits in Scotland. 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.
“It is of note that NHG Grampian records the first contact with CAMHS as the assessment appointment and the second contact as the start of treatment. This is not necessarily the same practice of other boards in Scotland.
“This first contact is a comprehensive assessment including elements of treatment and we continue to prioritise all urgent (within seven days) and emergency (within 24 hours) referrals.
“Our waiting times continue to improve steadily and all referrals for Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire are now seen for their first appointment within eight weeks.
“We have also been targeting our longest waits under a waiting list initiative and the number of longest waits have reduced significantly in the last year.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As Scotland-wide figures show, we have seen an increase in the number of patients across Scotland starting treatment within psychological therapies compared to the previous quarter and the same quarter last year.
“Through the delivery of the Mental Health Strategy, £54 million is being invested to help boards improve their performance against waiting times targets. This has contributed to a continued increase in the number of professionals working in psychology services – a 69% increase in all clinical staff since 2007.”