Scottish CAMHS waiting times improve while remaining way below target

Press release, Scotland news
06 March 2024

Waiting time performance for children’s mental health services in Scotland has seen a further improvement, while remaining below the target levels.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) waiting times showed 83.8% of patients were seen within 18 weeks of referral.

This is an increase from 75.6% for the previous quarter and from the 70.4% in the same quarter from the previous year.

The Scottish Government standard states that 90% of children and young people should start treatment within 18 weeks of referral to CAMHS.

Ministers said the latest data showed the highest performance in eight years.

The latest data from Public Health Scotland (PHS) shows 4,531 children and young people started CAMHS treatment during the period.

This was down by 19.7% from the same period in 2022.

Half of all those starting treatment did so within six weeks of referral, an improvement from the previous quarter.

Dr Jane Morris, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said:

“While it is welcome news that waiting times have improved, ministers cannot assume the job is now done.

“Working on the front line we see a postcode lottery of specialist mental health services across the country, but our vulnerable children and young people deserve so much better than this.

“Serious mental illness is not an easy thing – it needs to be properly managed and appropriately resourced.”

She said funding had gone down in real terms, adding:

“For the sake of all our young people, we’re asking for the £30 million cut from the Scottish Budget to be restored immediately.

“We’d also urge the new health minister to ensure 10% of the total NHS spend goes towards mental health and 1% for CAMHS.”

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