6 October 2016
The number of admissions of young people
under 18 in Scotland with mental ill health to non-specialist -
mainly adult - hospital wards reduced significantly last year, from
207 to 135.
The number of young people involved reduced from 176 to 118. The
difference between the two figures is due to repeat admissions.
The figures appear in Mental Welfare Commission's latest annual
monitoring report, published today, which also includes information
by health board area, new data on the duration of stay for young
people, and a list of recommendations for further improvement.
The report has an additional six month in-depth study exploring
some of the issues behind these admissions.
Colin McKay, chief executive, Mental Welfare Commission,
"When young people are so unwell that they need hospital
treatment for mental ill health, they should wherever possible be
treated in a specialist unit. We were concerned in recent years at
the rising numbers who were not receiving this treatment.
"Today's figures show a substantial, and very welcome, drop in
the numbers admitted to non-specialist wards. We hope this will be
sustained and even improved upon in future.
"The change has come about due to a combination of new beds
becoming available, improved intensive community support, and
improved processes and more stable staffing in specialist
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board saw a reduction of 53% in
Grampian Health Board saw a reduction of 44%.
Lothian Health Board's admissions, though small, reduced by
Areas of concern
While the reductions in admission are very welcome, the
Commission did find areas of concern in this year's report.
There are no specialist in-patient services in Scotland for
young people with forensic needs or learning disabilities, and
these young people sometimes have to be sent to England to receive
care. Plans are being developed for new services, and the
Commission hopes these will be progressed quickly.
The other significant gap is any specialist intensive
psychiatric care provision for young people, who may instead be
placed in adult services. While the numbers were low (14 young
people), adult intensive psychiatric care units (IPCUs) are highly
specialised environments, and clinicians have repeatedly raised
concerns with the Commission about the unsuitability of such units
for young people.
There was a decrease in the proportions of young people who were
able to access age-appropriate recreational facilities while they
were in hospital - from 60% the previous year, to only 42% in
2015-16. The report contains a recommendation to address this
Not enough priority was given to addressing educational needs,
and young people were not made aware of how to seek independent
advocacy. The Commission made recommendations concerning both of
- The additional monitoring report looked at reasons for
admission, and found that over the six month period, over half were
due to low mood, suicidal thoughts or self harm. A quarter were due
- For 51% of admissions, the young person was in a non-specialist
setting solely or predominantly because there were no specialist
- While 70% were admitted voluntarily, only 53% of the
young people remained voluntary during their stay, meaning 47% were
subject to detention at some point during their stay.
Colin McKay said:
"An adult ward can be a difficult and alienating environment for
a young person. That is why it is so important that the care is
informed by specialist expertise, and the young person has access
to age-appropriate recreation and activity.
"For young people staying for more than a few days, and who are
well enough, maintaining the link to their ongoing education is
also vital, and we are concerned that this may not always be
Note to editors
There are three specialist NHS in-patient units in Scotland for
treating young people with mental ill health - in Glasgow,
Edinburgh and Dundee.
A copy of the full report can be found on our website.
Young Person Monitoring Report 2015-16
Mary Mowat: 0131 313 8786