A Conservative candidate standing in the forthcoming General Election has slammed "appalling" mental health waiting times for children and young people in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

New statistics released using Freedom of Information legislation show how long youngsters had to wait for their first Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) appointment in each health board.

The data revealed that one patient in Ayrshire and Arran had to wait 91 weeks for an appointment.

Todd Ferguson, who is standing as the Conservative candidate for the North Ayrshire and Arran seat, described the figures as a "betrayal" of young people in Scotland.

He said: "Vulnerable children and young people in NHS Ayrshire and Arran are suffering truly appalling waits for mental health treatment on the SNP's watch.

"Even before the pandemic, the SNP were presiding over a mental health crisis among our young people in NHS Ayrshire and Arran and the Covid pandemic has only made the problem worse.

"No patient should be waiting as long as 91 weeks to have their first CAMHS appointment. We’re talking about vulnerable, potentially suicidal, youngsters, so these waits are intolerable and potentially life-threatening.

"They represent a betrayal of young people in NHS Ayrshire and Arran by the SNP."

Mr Ferguson said that successive SNP health secretaries had presided over "dire workforce planning" that left CAMHS services "completely overstretched."

He added: "They owe young people in NHS Ayrshire and Arran an apology, and the current incumbent – the discredited and distracted Michael Matheson – must now outline an urgent plan to ensure those requiring mental health support are seen far sooner."

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Mental Wellbeing Minister Maree ToddMental Wellbeing Minister Maree Todd (Image: Newsquest)

Mental Wellbeing Minister Maree Todd said: "Long waiting times such as this are unacceptable – it is vital that all children and young people receive the right support, at the right time.

"The latest figures show that we continue to see significant and sustained progress on CAMHS waiting times – 13 out of 14 boards have now effectively eliminated long waits.

"We remain committed to supporting all boards to meet the standard that 90% of patients start treatment within 18 weeks of referral.

"More than £1.3billion will support mental health services, with £290.2million direct investment – more than doubled since 2020/21 – enabling record numbers of staff to provide more varied support and services to a larger number of people than ever before.

"CAMHS services are supported by both budgets, with boards determining levels of funding at a local level."