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Mental health waiting times

Published: 24 Nov 2015 10:30

Improvement programme to help boards reduce waits

An improvement programme will be developed to help health boards to reduce waiting times for mental health services.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, made the announcement today as new figures on mental health waiting times and workforce were published.

The programme will work with health boards to support them to meet the Scottish Government's standard that 90 per cent of patients should be seen within 18 weeks. It is being developed as part of the additional £100 million fund to improve mental health services over the next five years.

The statistics, published by ISD Scotland today, show the number of people seen by mental health services has increased by more than a quarter in the last year.

The number of children and young people seen has increased by 27 per cent since the same quarter last year – an additional 903 patients. Demand for psychological therapies has increased by 26.5 per cent over the same period – from 10,304 people seen to 13,030.

Among child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) patients, 73.0 per cent were seen within 18 weeks. For adult psychological therapies the figure was 81.1 per cent. The Scottish Government standard is for 90 per cent of patients to be seen within this time. Half of CAMHS patients were seen within nine weeks, compared with 11 weeks in 2012.

Workforce figures were also published today. The number of professionals working in CAMHS continues to increase, and has now risen by 28.4 per cent since 2009 – an increase of 214 whole time equivalent posts. This reflects an investment of £16.3 million in the workforce by the Scottish Government over the six year period, with a further £3.5 million committed this year

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said:

"These figures demonstrate the large increase in the number of people who are being treated by mental health services over the last year, with significantly more patients being referred for treatment. This is likely to be largely due to increased awareness and more willingness to ask for help. Average waits are down, and services are seeing more people in a shorter time-scale

"To deal with this increase in demand we have invested £16.3 million in the child and adolescent mental health workforce since 2009, leading to a 28.4 per cent increase in the number of clinical staff. There are more professionals who have recently completed training who are due to start in post over the next few months.

"It's clearly disappointing that some boards are not meeting the 18 week standard. In order to help some of these boards to reduce their waits we will develop an improvement programme to work with those individual boards. This will look at where problems lie, what solutions could be found, and where there are examples of best practice from around the country that might help to reduce waiting times.

"Over the next five years we will be investing an extra £100 million in mental health services – over and above what we are already putting in. These funds will be used to reduce waiting times by investing in the workforce, improving CAMHS, promoting innovation and better responses in primary care."


Workforce and waiting time statistics for CAMHS and psychological therapies are available at