Taysiders “may decide not to bother” seeking mental health treatment due to rocketing waiting times, a Dundee MSP has warned.
Bill Bowman, who serves the North East region at Holyrood, made the comments following the release of new figures by the health board.
They show that waiting times for people referred to see clinical psychologists in the region have doubled in just two years — up from an average wait of 8.3 weeks in 2015 to 16 weeks in 2017.
Clinical psychology deals with a wide range of mental and physical health problems including addiction, anxiety, depression, learning difficulties and relationship issues.
The doctors are trained to work with individuals with behavioural, emotional and psychological distress which disrupts their everyday functioning and well-being.
They aim to reduce distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being, minimise exclusion and inequalities and enable service users to engage in meaningful relationships and valued work and leisure activities.
Mr Bowman said NHS Tayside had faced “one calamity after another” of late.
He added: “The staff of NHS Tayside are doing the best they can in a very challenging climate.
“I just don’t think there are enough people to provide the levels of treatment required in local settings.
“People are waiting longer to get referrals, and longer again to get expert help.
“There are also concerns that changes to the mental health model in Tayside will cause even longer waiting times for referrals.
“The shift of all general adult psychiatry to Dundee has anecdotally caused a shift in services, and attitudes.
“A worst-case scenario would be that people may decide not to bother with treatment.”
A spokesman for Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership said: “We have been experiencing some challenges around waiting times for clinical psychology due to a combination of workforce issues, a significant increase in demand and ongoing redesign work in some specialities.
“Work is ongoing to progress recruitment and an action plan to address these issues is currently being developed to present to the performance and audit committee of Dundee Integration Joint Board.”