A Fife patient has waited almost a year to see a consultant psychiatrist, new figures have revealed.
According to a Freedom of Information request by The Courier there are 647 people on the waiting list for an appointment.
The longest wait to be seen is just sunder of a year, with one patient waiting 335 days – although Fife health and social care partnership divisional general manager Julie Paterson said data for 2016/17 showed there was an average wait was 64 days.
The problem is exacerbated by vacancies – six of the 31 posts are unfilled.
Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said: “People with poor mental issue in Fife are being failed to a degree that is difficult to comprehend.”
Meanwhile Labour MSP Claire Baker said it was time the SNP stopped dragging its heels as the growing mental health problem in Scotland is a scandal which has to be addressed by the Scottish Government.
Both politicians compared the delays in getting help with that of a physical injury.
“If I had a broken leg I would be treated by the NHS within hours,” Mr Rennie said.
“If I had to wait for a year not only would I be in agony but I would also suffer permanent disfigurement and would need many more visits to the NHS to put right the damage to my leg.
“Yet because it is mental health, we can’t see the injury and the stigma associated with the condition it seems to be accepted that people should wait for a year. This has got to change.”
Mrs Baker added: “The level of vacancies doesn’t help waiting times, but even at full complement there will still be too many patients waiting for vital care in Fife.”
Ms Paterson said mental health services are being redesigned and the partnership is “committed to ensuring that the needs of individuals are matched to the level of care they require whilst ensuring a responsive and accessible service”.
There is an urgent care assessment team which provides a response on a 24-hour basis to those in critical need and urgent referrals usually have an appointment within one week.
For all other referrals the average wait was 64 days.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our vision is of a Scotland where people can get the right help at the right time, expect recovery, and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma.”
Trainee recruitment into core roles had increased and 82% of posts have been filled, with a rise in the number of psychiatry consultant roles across Scotland of 21.2%.
He added the Government was committed to a £150 million investment over five years in improving mental health, with additional funding reaching £35m by 2022 for 800 additional mental health workers in key settings.
Link to Courier article here