Dramatic Improvement In Waiting Times For Children And Young People

Figures just released show a dramatic improvement in waiting times for children and young people with mental health problems in Forth Valley. Thanks to a series of changes in the way services are delivered, latest statistics* show that the number being treated within the 18 week target now stands at 94.8%, exceeding the national target of 90%.

NHS Forth Valley Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Department Manager, Jacqueline Sproule, said: “The excellent results are the culmination of hard work and a recovery plan that made many small improvements in the way we work. Putting these together has really paid off along with the recruitment of extra specialist staff in all areas of the service.

“Our team have worked very hard to reduce waiting times as no-one wants to see children having to wait for help, especially those who are particularly vulnerable.”

During late 2015 and throughout 2016 the service implemented an action plan with the help of additional investment from the Health Board and the Scottish Government. Staff numbers increased by more than a third and another three specialist mental health posts for children and young people are being created this quarter. The funding also supported the appointment of two intensive treatment nurses to provide support to children and young people in crisis, additional child psychology posts and a specialist speech and language therapist.

A self help mobile app promoting mental wellbeing and positive safety planning was provided with support from a local charity (Safespot.org) and a new patient focused booking system has been introduced to allowed clients to phone and arrange an appointment at a time which suits them.  GPs can also refer patients electronically with the option of requesting advice.

In addition, NHS Forth Valley employs a team of primary mental health workers who offer support and advice to local schools across Forth Valley. They offer a direct telephone advice line for teaching staff and have worked with schools to develop self-harm protocols

Throughout the last two years as changes have been made to reduce waiting times, staff have ensured that children who require an urgent mental health assessment or treatment were prioritised to ensure they were seen quickly as possible. This approach will continue and the improvements now mean that the vast majority of children and young people in Forth Valley who require support for mental illness within Forth Valley are now seen within the target waiting time.

Jacqueline Sproule says the team are particularly keen to further develop improvements to ensure that children get the best service possible. This includes work to review referral pathways for neurodevelopmental difficulties and eating disorders, increase engagement with local GPs and school nurses and develop closer partnerships with local education departments and social work services.