MSP raises concerns about the rise in demand for mental health services in Fife

Alex Rowley MSP has expressed concern over the rise in demand for mental health services in Fife. Pic: Lisa Ferguson.
Alex Rowley MSP has expressed concern over the rise in demand for mental health services in Fife. Pic: Lisa Ferguson.

A Fife MSP has raised concerns over figures which show patients waiting over 18 weeks to be seen by both psychological and child/adolescent mental health services in the Kingdom.

Mr Rowley claims the latest figures from ISD Scotland (Information Services Division, part of NHS Scotland), show that 37.5 per cent of NHS Fife patients waiting at the end of the month have been waiting over 18 weeks to be seen – despite the fact the Scottish Government has a target of 90 per cent of patients to start treatment within 18 weeks.

The statistics revealed that at the end of December 2017, 3,039 patients were still waiting to be seen across NHS Fife, with 147 patients waiting over 52 weeks.

This is coupled with an increase in patients waiting longer than the 18 week target for child and adolescent mental health services.

The figures showed 36.2 per cent of young people waiting over 18 weeks before being seen for treatment. This is up nearly 13 per cent on the previous year-end quarter.

There has also been a large rise in the number of young people waiting between 36-52 weeks, steadily increasing each quarter from 2.6 per cent in December 2016, to 14.9 per cent in December 2017.

Mr Rowley said: “It is saddening to see so many people waiting so long for treatment that they desperately need.”

“Investment in mental health services should be one of our top priorities, particularly child mental health.

“Mental health services in Fife are failing to support all those who need support and this is not acceptable.”

Julie Paterson, Fife Health and Social Care Partnership’s divisional general manager (Fife-wide), said the number of referrals to Fife Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services has continued to grow year on year as has demand for psychological therapies.

“We continue to work hard to ensure that children, young people and adults are seen in a timely manner, including same day responses to those in most urgent need,” she explained.

“A number of positive actions are progressing, including early intervention with our partners – for example, teachers, school nurses – to support good mental health at an early stage and the development of additional group therapy programmes to extend the range of treatments.

‘‘Progress is ongoing with waiting times continuing to improve and Fife having one of the lowest national admission rates to inpatient units for children and young people.”