Fears have been raised over the welfare of vulnerable young people in Angus after new figures revealed more than a thousand under 18s have been forced to wait longer than three months for mental health treatment.
More than 2,157 young people in the county have been referred for mental health conditions since 2016, with 1,053 waiting longer than 12 weeks to receive care for a range of potentially life-threatening conditions such as a depression, eating disorders and anxiety.
Fewer than one in five of the Angus patients were treated inside the county, with more than 1,637 of the young patients asked to travel to other parts of Tayside for treatment.
The figures, released after a Freedom of Information request, do not include data for 2019, meaning the total is likely to be higher.
Ms Hair has campaigned on improving treatment for eating disorders and other mental health issues.
She said: “These figures expose the failings in mental health treatment for young people here in Angus.
“The families affected are very often waiting for months on end for treatment, while patients routinely have to travel outside of Angus to get the help they need.
“It is not good enough. Waiting times must be addressed urgently if these young people are to get the immediate support and treatment they need,” she added.
The national target waiting time for treatment to begin is 18 weeks. Separate figures recently published by the Scottish Government for the first quarter of 2019 show only 57.9% of young NHS Tayside patients started treatment within that window. The national standard is 90%.
The Angus statistics, however, show some improvement locally. A total of 383 young people waited more than 12 weeks in 2016, 403 in 2017 and 267 in 2018.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) clinics are available in three locations in Angus: Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre in Forfar, Carnoustie Health Centre and Links Health Centre, Montrose.
Children and young people in Angus who need specialist care are assessed and treated in the main Child Health Outpatient unit at Dudhope Terrace in Dundee.
An NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “There has been a lot of work undertaken by staff to improve access to services for young people in Tayside over the past 12 months.
“We have been working closely with a Healthcare Improvement Scotland team to deliver an improvement plan which will reduce waiting times. This includes a full CAMHS service workforce review and recruitment drive to key posts, to ensure that the team are fully equipped to manage the service demand and enhance the experience for children and their families.
“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 in the near future,” she added.