Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Thursday) questioned the First Minister over a "lack of capacity" in young people's mental health services in Orkney. It follows concerns raised by constituents over a letter issued by NHS Orkney warning of expected delays and people not being seen over the coming months.
Mr McArthur secured a commitment from the First Minister that the Scottish Government would assist in providing interim support while efforts are made to recruit more CAMHS staff on a permanent basis. Nicola Sturgeon stated, "we will engage with NHS Orkney to provide whatever support we can [...] it is important we provide support to fill any interim gaps."
Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:
"Young people who experience mental ill health are some of the most vulnerable in our community. It is essential, therefore, that services are in place at a time and in a way that meets their needs.
“In 2017, Professor Linda Gask produced a report for NHS Orkney identifying the urgent need for increased capacity in local CAMH services and better support for staff. Since then, the situation has only become more serious, despite the best efforts of staff.
"Most recently, a letter from NHS Orkney, warning of extended delays in appointments and treatment, has created real concern amongst many of those who rely on CAMHS support. I have been contacted by constituents worried about the implications and desperate to know what might be done to address the lack of capacity within the service.
"I recognise that NHS Orkney is in the process of recruiting more CAMHS staff, but this will take time. I therefore welcome the commitment from the First Minister to work with NHS Orkney on ways to plug existing gaps in the interim and ensure those struggling with their mental health get the support they need. Over the coming days, I will be discussing with the interim Chief Executive of NHS Orkney, Michael Dickson, how best this might be done."