NHS Forth Valley: Waiting times for youth mental health services fall sharply

Cathie Cowan, NHS Forth Valley Chief Executive.
Cathie Cowan, NHS Forth Valley Chief Executive.

Waiting times for vulnerable children and young people who need mental health services locally have fallen sharply, NHS Forth Valley Health Board has been told.

Chief executive Cathie Cowan reported to the board that in June, 91.9 per cent of those referred were seen within the target time of 18 weeks, compared with just 48.2 per cent in the same month last year. She said they were delighted with the improvement made in the past year but not taking anything for granted.

The service hit the headlines in 2016 when it was revealed that just 39 per cent of referrals to CAMHS were seen within the 18-week target set by the Scottish Government.

Since then, there has been steady improvement but this is the first time that the service has exceeded the government’s target of 90 per cent.

Adult psychological therapies continue to pose issues, with just 67.9 per cent of patients treated within 18 weeks of referral in May 2019.

This compares with 76.7 per cent of Scottish patients being treated in the same time-frame.

Forth Valley Health Board was warned that the figures are provisional as its recording system has changed recently.

One of the main reasons given for the area consistently failing to reach anywhere close to the 90 per cent target has been a lack of staff.

Ms Cowan told board members that there had been a successful recruitment drive and a number of people will soon be in post.

Her report stated: “Staffing issues remain in respect of maternity leave and candidates withdrawing, but recruitment continues.”