FOR the 10th month in a row, more than 70 per cent of Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (sCAMHS) referrals waiting for a first appointment in Cardiff and the Vale were not seen within target times, new figures have revealed.
Figures from Stats Wales also show that 83.3 per cent of new Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board (UHB) sCAMHS referrals were not seen within the four week target time.
Cardiff Council member, Rhys Taylor, who called the statistics “appalling” has called for answers from the Welsh Government.
Cllr Taylor, who is also the group leader for the Liberal Democrats at Cardiff Council said: “We cannot go month on month with over 70 per cent of sCAMHS referrals not being seen within target times.
“There is no doubt in my mind these problems are not being caused by the incredibly hard-working practitioners at the Cardiff and Vale Health Board, who are having to deal with huge workloads with limited resources.
“Right now young people in Cardiff and the Vale are being let down and people are falling through the cracks. If a child had a broken leg we would not wait over four weeks to treat it, why should it be acceptable for a child experiencing a mental health crisis in Cardiff and the Vale to wait so long?
“Labour must do better when it comes to ensuring our young can access mental health services when they need them. The Welsh Government now needs to outline why Cardiff and Vale Health Board is performing so much worse than other health boards in Wales when it comes to sCAMHS waiting times and then put in place the support it needs to begin to resolve the issue.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across Wales have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic with a significant increase in referrals, particularly in the Cardiff and Vale Health University Health Board area.
“The service in Cardiff and Vale is being monitored by the NHS Delivery Unit and we hold regular performance meetings with the health board.
“We have provided additional funding to all health boards to support improvements, recover waiting times and to build future, sustainable capacity. The NHS Delivery Unit will also undertake a review of services to help us better understand variance in performance and to inform improvements.”
Cardiff and the Vale UHB said it has been recognised nationally that there is a growing number of children experiencing mental health challenges and that this has been exacerbated during the pandemic.
A spokesperson for Cardiff and the Vale UHB said: “We continue to see high numbers of children presenting to all of our Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health services.
“As a result, we have some children or young people who can wait up to 6 months for a specialist CAMHS appointment but a significant number will be seen quicker than this.
“However, whilst we recognise that we have issues to address with our CAMHS waiting list, our Primary Mental Health Service has seen 80% of patients within 28-days on average since November 2021.
“Any children or young people who find themselves in a mental health crisis are seen within 48-hours. Since October 2020, an average of 81% of patients have been seen within this target.
“We have a plan in place as part of our Recovery & Redesign programme to reduce waiting times and are working with children, their families, our staff and our Local Authority colleagues to ensure young people have access to the right care.
“Additionally, we are working with external agencies, such as Healios, to provide further capacity to meet the demand we are currently facing and to help with the reduction of existing waiting lists and times.
“We are committed to improving access for early support and have recently launched our Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health website with advice co-produced with young people and we have also established our Single Point of Access team to offer timely referrals into our service and consultation to professionals.
“We are also working on a number of other service transformations which we hope will improve the experience of our children and young people over the coming months.”