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Vulnerable children are lacking support

This news post is over 7 years old

A desperate shortage of trained health professionals has created a “ticking timebomb” for children with additional support needs in Scotland

A coalition of third sector children’s services providers has warned vulnerable young people will be left without support unless recruitment of trained specialists is stepped up.

The call, by the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), comes as new figures from Health Scotland show just five out of 13 training places for doctors in child and adolescent psychiatry were filled.

In addition, just one doctor was recruited for nine available training slots caring for people with learning disabilities.

Since 2011 only 22% of vacancies for doctors caring for those with learning disabilities has been filled and just over half have been filled for those dealing with child and adolescent psychiatry.

Alex Orr, spokesman for SCSC, said: “Waiting times will undoubtedly increase and we are heading for a real ticking timebomb when it comes to the delivery of psychiatry and psychologist services.

Waiting times will undoubtedly increase and we are heading for a real ticking timebomb when it comes to the delivery of psychiatry and psychologist services

“High level strategic management is required in order to get a grip on the situation and we will be writing to the Scottish Government, urging it to act quickly to address this shortfall in numbers.”

According to the figures, one in every 10 children had to wait up to 26 weeks before being seen by a psychiatrist or mental health professional.

Other research shows pupils requiring additional support in schools has increased sharply, a situation that has arose out of greater awareness of conditions such as autism.

However it means there will be increased demand for the skills of health professionals over the next few years, SCSC said.

Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 a statutory duty is placed on local authorities to identify and provide additional support for pupils.

Orr added: “These figures are clearly very alarming and it is those children and young people requiring these services who are missing out - the most vulnerable in our society.”



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