New figures have shown that the pandemic has taken its toll on mental health waiting times for children and adolescents.
In the Borders, the median waiting time climbed sharply, from just 8 weeks to 40 weeks from March 2020 to March 2021. This is the time period that half of the patients seen started treatment within. The target is 18 weeks.
Across Scotland, the average waiting time is 8 weeks.
Of the patients seen in the Borders in March of this year, 20% had been waiting more than a year. This is compared to 0% a year earlier.
However, statistics show that more patients are now being seen every month than at any time since the pandemic began, sparking hopes that improvements in waiting times will become evident in the next few months.
Similarly, the total number of patients waiting to be seen sits at 220, down from a peak of 245 in December. However, it remains higher than the 156 who were waiting in March 2020.
John Lamont MP, said:
“Our NHS has dealt heroically with the coronavirus pandemic. The vaccine rollout is putting us on the road to recovery.
“However, these sobering statistics show the pressure that has been on other parts of the health service as a result of the focus on beating the pandemic.
“These last 15 months have really taken their toll on people’s mental health. No more so than children who have been out of school and away from friends for months at a time.
“To see the waiting times climb from just 8 weeks to 40 weeks is hugely concerning. No doubt there are many families in the Borders who are struggling as a result.
“I am glad to hear that NHS Borders already has a plan in place to improve these statistics and there are early signs of it working.
“We need to see more support from the Scottish Government to ensure that vulnerable young people are not left to tackle their mental health alone.”
Rachael Hamilton said:
“The statistics make for grim reading, and behind every figure is a young person that is struggling to get the help they need on time.
“We cannot let there be a lost generation of young people who end up suffering further due to a lack of resources.
“The NHS staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic; now they need the right support from the Scottish Government to tackle the backlog of delayed appointments and treatment.
“Whilst it is reassuring that NHS Borders has been quick to implement a plan to reverse this trend, there are questions as to why the SNP Government has allowed for health boards not to meet crucial CAMHS standards.
“We need to see more resources directed at recruiting CAMHS specialists in order to reduce waiting times going ahead.
“For 14 years they have failed to improve mental health services across Scotland and they are letting down thousands of families and young people”.