Page last updated at 01:24 GMT, Sunday, 24 January 2010

Self-harm hospital admission figures revealed

miserable boy - generic
The Scottish government said it was committed to tacking self harm

Children who self-harm have been admitted to hospital more than 7,000 times in the past decade, Scottish government figures have revealed.

They also showed admissions among the over 16s had topped 160,000 since 1999.

The statistics were branded "astonishing" by the Lib Dem health spokesman Ross Finnie, who obtained them through a parliamentary question.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said an extra £5.5m would be invested in mental health services by 2011-12.

She said this would lead to an estimated 15-20% increase in specialist staff.

Mr Finnie said mental health support had increasingly been provided in the community over the past 10 years but claimed that a report by auditors found that funding had not been shifting from hospital to community care.

Shona Robison
This increased workforce will help NHS boards deliver our new waiting time target by March 2013 at the latest
Shona Robison
Public Health Minister

He said: "An Audit Scotland report published last year warned that there are long waits to access certain services, particularly services for younger and older people, and there is a lack of out-of-hours and crisis services in some areas.

"This was backed up by a more recent report into child and adolescent mental health which warned about the prevalence of self-harm and the lack of systematic support.

"The health secretary needs to act on these figures and address the concerns about mental health services outlined by Audit Scotland."

The statistics - which cover 1999-2009 - showed that across all of Scotland's health board areas, there were 7,126 hospital admissions for self-harm among the under 16s.

The figures peaked in 2000-01 when they reached 776 but have levelled off in recent years, reaching a figure of 563 in 2008-09.

Among the over 16s, there were 160,668 admissions in the same 10-year period.

'Tackling this'

Again, the figures peaked near the start of the decade, with 16,168 over 16s admitted in 2002-03. The latest figures, for 2008-09, showed there were 14,469 hospital admissions.

Cases can cover patients being transferred between hospitals, specialties or to the care of a consultant, so a single patient can trigger multiple episodes.

Ms Robison said: "We are aware of the extent of the issue of self-harming and are committed to tackling this.

"We are committed to improving access to both community and in-patient mental health services and we see increasing the specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) workforce as key to this."

She said she expected the additional £5.5m to lead to a 15-20% increase in CAMHS staff.

"This increased workforce will help NHS boards deliver our new waiting time target for access to specialist CAMHS, meaning no-one will wait longer than 26 weeks by March 2013 at the latest," she added.

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