Parents who claim mental health care services are failing their children have welcomed a review they will be able to take part in.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt promised an audit of the number of children being rejected by CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service) after being referred by other health professionals such as GPs.
It will form part of the Scottish Government’s ten-year mental health strategy.
Mums and dads across the Forth Valley NHS area have raised a host of concerns regarding the local service in Falkirk and Stirling including rejected referrals.
Mrs Watt said: “We committed last month to carrying out an audit of Child and Adolescent Mental Health referrals as part of our ten-year mental health strategy. Once this is established, parents will have the opportunity to feed into this audit.
“We are now at the early stages of planning, and this initial scoping work will involve children and young people’s groups, together with people who have lived experience of CAMHS. We hope to be able to report shortly on how the audit will be taken forward.”
Katie Sneddon (30) from Bo’ness formed the CAMHS Forth Valley Parent Voices pressure group after she became concerned over the care of her eight-year-old son.
The group now has over 100 members and has received scores of complaints about the local CAMHS service.
Katie said: “Rejected referrals is a major problem in Forth Valley and is something that has pushed families to breaking point because they don’t get the care they need when they have been rejected by CAMHS.
“We welcome this review and will actively be taking part, but we believe a review of the whole system is needed as there are other serious problems that need to be sorted.”
NHS Forth Valley say its most recent figures for rejected referrals, published quarterly on the ISD website, was six per cent below the national average of 23 per cent.
More specialist staff, including intensive treatment nurses and child psychologists have been recruited in CAMHS and waiting times have also improved as part of “significant” changes made over the past few months.
The health board is also hoping to have a parents forum to gather feedback from families up and running by the end of May.
A spokesperson said: “A number of other service improvements are planned over the next year. The service is also keen to create a new Young People’s Forum and is consulting with service users on how they would like to take this forward.”