About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) waiting times for the quarter to 30 June 2020.

NHS Boards, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic made changes to their service delivery in March 2020. All NHS Boards have advised that the measures put in place have had an impact on their figures for this quarter. More information can be found in the Data Quality document.

Revisions relevant to this publication summary

NHS Ayrshire and Arran resubmitted data from January 2020 following clarification of definitions. This summary has been revised to reflect this change which impacted on both NHS Ayrshire & Arran and Scotland. For the quarter ending June 2020 the number of people who waited over 18 weeks to start treatment, in Scotland decreased from 40.7% to 38.3%, and the total waiting to start treatment at the end of June 2020, decreased by 6.7% from 9,986 to 9,319. The new figures are highlighted in red and more detail is available in the report.

Main points

For the quarter ending June 2020:

  • 3,548 children and young people started treatment at CAMHS in Scotland. This is a 14.1% decrease from 4,131 starting treatment in the previous quarter, and an 11.6% decrease from 4,012 starting treatment in the same quarter the previous year.
  • Over six out of 10 (61.7%) children and young people were seen within 18 weeks, compared to 66.6% for the previous quarter and 69.8% for the quarter ending June 2019. The Scottish Government standard states that 90% of children and young people should start treatment within 18 weeks of referral to CAMHS.
  • Half of the children and young people seen started their treatment within 13 weeks which is an increase from 11 weeks in the previous quarter and from 12 weeks in the same quarter the previous year.
  • Since March 2020 there has been a decline in both referrals and patients seen in response to measures taken at a national level to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.


Image caption Percentage of patients seen by CAMHS within 18 weeks of referral, by quarter, NHSScotland
Line graph showing the percentage of children and young people seen within 18 weeks over the last two years for all Scotland. Performance was 67.5% for quarter ending June 2018.The next three quarters shows an upward trend to 73.6% for quarter ending March 2019. Performance is 61.7% for the latest quarter ending June 2020.
  • Across Scotland, more than one in eight patients (13.6%) referred to CAMHS did not attend their first appointment which is a slight increase from the previous quarter where 13.4% did not attend their first appointment, and also an increase from the same quarter ending June 2019 where 12.2% did not attend their first appointment.
  • As expected, there has been a drop in referrals during this quarter, with 3,987 children and young people being referred to CAMHS in Scotland. This compares to 9,019 for the previous quarter, and 8,520 for the quarter ending June 2019.
Image caption Total number of Referrals and Referrals rejected by quarter, NHSScotland June 2015 – June 2020
This chart is a time series of referrals  by quarter in NHS Scotand. There is an overall trend line on the graph which is trending upwards from June 2015 to December 2019, with seasonal variation.The latest quarter has seen a fall in the number of referrals to 3987.


The main function of CAMHS is to develop and deliver services for children and young people (and parents and carers) who are experiencing mental health problems. They also have an important role in supporting the mental health capacity of wider children’s services. Delivery of good quality CAMHS depends on timely access to health care and adequate numbers of well trained staff being recruited and retained across NHSScotland.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 01 December 2020.

NHS performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs (external website). NHS Performs is a website that brings together a range of information on how hospitals and NHS Boards within NHSScotland are performing.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.camh@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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