About half of young people in Tayside waiting for a mental health appointment are not being seen on time – but there are signs of improvement.
Figures published by NHS Scotland show 49.5% of local youngsters referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) were seen within the legal target of 18 weeks in the three months to December last year.
While far below the national average of 72.8%, it is the best performance in Tayside for more than a year and a vast improvement on the 35.8% achieved in the previous three months.
However, it remaims a long way from the expected target of 90%.
North East region Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said: “We only get one chance to bring-up our children.
“Making young people wait months and months for treatment, after being referred by a medical professional, could have a lasting and damaging impact on the rest of their lives.”
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, a group of independent learning support services and charities, has called for a “radical transformation” of mental health services.
CAMHS services in Tayside have suffered due to a number of vacancies remaining unfilled for up to six months in the last year.
Lorna Wiggin, NHS Tayside director of acute services, said: “There has been a lot of work undertaken by staff in our child and adolescent mental health services to improve access to services for young people in Tayside over the past 12 months.
“We have been working closely with the healthcare improvement Scotland mental health access improvement support team to deliver an improvement plan which will reduce waiting times.
“We now have a dedicated manager and waiting times co-ordinator for the service, and we have also just successfully recruited a consultant psychiatrist to fill a long-standing vacancy.
“We are determined to continue making improvements to ensure all our children and young people receive the best-quality care without delays and we hope to reach the national standard later this year.”