The Welsh Liberal Democrats have questioned Labour’s ability to deliver on their new mental health targets, as new figures show a large increase in the number of young people waiting over the target time for specialist treatment.
Statistics released today show an 11% increase over a month in the number of patients for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) who are waiting more than the target 16 weeks to begin their treatment.
1,766 patients had been waiting more than 16 weeks as of September 2015, 185 more than in August. The number is 55% of all those currently waiting for CAMHS treatment, a rate which is also increasing.
The Welsh Government new shorter waiting time targets for local primary mental health services don’t apply to CAMHS treatment, whose patients will still be subject to the longer 16 week (112 day) target.
Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
“Labour like to trumpet their ‘success’ with mental health, when the reality is rather different. Under their watch, specialist mental health services for children and young people are reaching crisis point.
“Too many children are being unnecessarily referred into the service, which means many of the thousands on this waiting list don’t even need to be there. This clogs up the service for the young people who have genuine mental ill health and need treatment.
“Labour Ministers are aware of this issue – in fact, they regularly use it as an excuse for such long waiting times. Yet Labour conveniently forget that they are the ones stewarding our NHS, and responsible for putting this problem right.
“The fact that Labour Ministers have failed to act to fix this relatively simple problem brings into question their ability to implement more stringent mental health targets. An idea is one thing, but putting it into action is another challenge – one I’m not confident Labour can meet.
“People rightly deserve speedy treatment for any mental health condition, but they’re not getting it in Labour’s Wales. That’s why mental healthcare is front and centre of the Welsh Liberal Democrat plan for the NHS, giving it the attention and resources it deserves.”