Num­bers wait­ing more than a year for men­tal health care dou­bles

The Herald - - POLITICS - TOM GOR­DON

THE num­ber of adults wait­ing more than a year to ac­cess men­tal health treat­ment has dou­bled since Scot­land ac­quired a ded­i­cated men­tal health min­is­ter, it has emerged.

Scottish Lib­dem leader

Wil­lie Ren­nie ac­cused Nicola Stur­geon of fail­ing to un­der­stand the scale of the prob­lem as he raised the statis­tic with her at First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions.

When Ms Stur­geon ap­pointed Mau­reen Watt to the newly cre­ated po­si­tion in May 2016, she said it demon­strated how se­ri­ously the gov­ern­ment took men­tal health sup­port.

How­ever, Mr Ren­nie said men­tal health ser­vices were get­ting worse, not bet­ter.

He cited a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest that found al­most 1,000 adults waited more than a year for men­tal health treat­ment in 2017/18, com­pared to fewer than 500 in 2015/16.

He said: “I do not think that the First Min­is­ter un­der­stands.

“The num­ber of peo­ple who are wait­ing over a year has dou­bled since the day that she ap­pointed her ded­i­cated Min­is­ter for Men­tal Health.

“Since Christ­mas, I have chal­lenged the First Min­is­ter about spe­cial­ist peri­na­tal men­tal health ser­vices – in half of Scot­land, there are none – the wait­ing times for chil­dren, which are longer, and her sui­cide preven­tion plan. The wait for that plan goes on and on.

“The First Min­is­ter tells us that the ser­vice that peo­ple re­ceive is get­ting bet­ter, but the ev­i­dence says that she is just plain wrong. Peo­ple with poor men­tal health de­serve an an­swer. Why are men­tal health ser­vices get­ting worse in this coun­try?”

Ms Stur­geon said more fund­ing and more staff re­cruit­ment were tak­ing place, but ad­mit­ted “adult waits are not yet where we want them to be”.

She said: “We want to bring wait­ing times down. In par­tic­u­lar, we want to bring down the long­est wait­ing times. The av­er­age adult wait is seven weeks.

“In child and ado­les­cent men­tal health ser­vices, the av­er­age wait is 10 weeks, and there is an av­er­age wait of be­tween five and 12 weeks, which is within the 18-week tar­get, in 11 out of 14 health boards. We con­tinue to work hard to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion fur­ther.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard asked Ms Stur­geon about re­jected referrals for child men­tal health ser­vices.

He said 5410 referrals had been re­jected since min­is­ters an­nounced an au­dit of the prob­lem in March 2017.

The First Min­is­ter said the au­dit would be pub­lished by June 30.

„ Wil­lie Ren­nie crit­i­cised the Gov­ern­ment’s track record on men­tal health care dur­ing First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions yes­ter­day.

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