The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)

What a difference a year makes for NHS Tayside

Waiting times: Twelve months on, health board has gone from worst to one of best

- Gareth mcpherson

A health board where youngsters with mental health problems were subjected to “shocking” waits for treatment has completed a remarkable turnaround.

A third (31%) of the 532 young people seen by the children’s mental health unit in Tayside last summer had to wait at least 18 weeks for treatment – by far the worst in the country. The average wait was 25 weeks.

But NHS Tayside has emerged as one of mainland Scotland’s top performing health boards with nearly all (97%) children and teenagers treated between January and March seen within the national target time, according to NHS Scotland figures.

Fife was one of six out of Scotland’s 14 health boards which failed to get 90% of young patients starting treatment at Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) within 18 weeks.

NHS Tayside general manager for medicine Carol Goodman said their results are the product of a year-long drive to cut waiting times.

“The appointmen­t of additional nursing and psychology staff has enabled the CAMHS team to significan­tly reduce waiting times from referral to treatment with all new referrals for children and young people being seen within 18 weeks,” she said.

“This has been achieved through the considerab­le efforts of all staff within the service being open to change focused on delivering service improvemen­t for the benefit of children and young people requiring our service.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, said the figures are testament to the hard work of staff. “Now we need to ensure that performanc­e does not slip again,” he added.

The percentage of young patients seen within target at Fife was 83.6% for the January to March figures released yesterday. The national average is 84.2%.

An NHS Fife spokesman said: “Whilst we welcome these improvemen­ts, we continue to review services and processes to ensure that they operate as efficientl­y as possible.”

The Scottish Government is investing £150 million over five years to improve services.

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