IN recent years, much attention has been given to extra funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, or CAMHS.

We know that the pressures of life in 2022 have increased anxieties amongst our young people, and greater public awareness of mental health has led to ever more demand for services.

However, one group of children have not benefited from recent investment in CAMHS. Specialist services for children with learning disability continue to fall behind, despite these children having more severe and intractable ill health.

Children with learning disabilities are more likely to have conditions like autism and ADHD for which there are long waiting-lists for diagnosis.

The prevalence of children and young people with learning disabilities is 1%-3%, yet they have a disproportionate burden of mental health problems and account for 14% of all British children with a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.

The Scottish Government acknowledged the lack of learning disability (LD) CAMHS provision as far back as the mid-2000s, recognising a “general paucity and inequity of mental health provision”.

The Scottish Mental Health Strategy, 2017-2027, noted that the highest rate of mental ill-health amongst infants, children and young people occur in those with intellectual disabilities and those with autism.

The Strategy acknowledges that “unless appropriate treatments and services are available then health inequalities will widen”.

Data shows that the gap is widening. Despite accounting for 14% of children requiring CAMHS, the workforce provision for learning-disability children and young people in Scotland has fallen from 4.7% between March-September 2017 down to 3.6% in the most recent figures, from September 2020.

By Scottish Government’s own estimation there are between 3,091 and 9,272 children and young people requiring LD/CAMHS services as a result of persistent mental ill-health.

The good news is that we have made advances in the understanding of anxiety in children with learning disability. This has led to the development of effective behavioural strategies.

There is also a simple and cost-effective way of developing CAMHS Learning Disability services: the Scottish Government can fund a Managed Clinical Network (MCN) so that professionals can share specialist knowledge across health boards in Scotland.

Yet I was informed last week that an application for a MCN has been delayed.

There is now a move to establish a wider Strategic Network that covers Mental Health as a whole, which would then include an LD CAMHS element to it.

For those of us who have campaigned for LD CAMHS services, this is evidently another setback.

I call on Scottish Government to approve the application for a Managed Clinical Network for Learning Disability CAMHS.

Let’s take pride in our services for children with learning disability and autism in Scotland and the fantastic professionals dedicated to their care.

Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Advocacy, Edinburgh.


THE old Woodbank/Hamilton House hotel in Balloch holds many happy memories rekindled by Kevin McKenna’s analysis of Flamingo Land proposals for the derelict site and surrounding area (“Why locals fear a gentrified township would ruin Loch Lomond forever”, September 10).

I remember modest development wrangles between local tourism operators and council planners but have not forgotten their shared concerns about a possible environmental threat to the loch itself. Perhaps an opportune moment for reassurance?

They knew about strictures imposed by the buried INEOS Finnart-Grangemouth oil refinery pipeline in and around the Lomond Shores area but were particularly concerned about its more vulnerable course across the bed of the adjacent river Leven.

The recent plans for the Drumkinnon woods were only re-hashed when the pipeline issues were belatedly discovered. Ashore, it’s buried below ground and is further protected from interference in the middle of a 100-metre-wide no-disturbance corridor.

I hope that somebody has remembered the existence of the 1950s submerged section near the mouth of the loch. It has reputedly received more than the occasional dunt from a deep keel when the river level has been low.

Leisure boats are getting bigger, drought shallows more frequent, and the river can only get busier.

Gerry Burke, Strachur.


TIM Cox, writing from Switzerland (letters, September 12), suggests that I am unaware of the date of the Union of the Crowns.

I did not burden Herald readers (letters, September 11) with a full account of the turbulent years between 1603 and 1707 but can assure Mr Cox that I am well aware that both Charles I and II, descendants of Robert II of Scotland, were nominally Kings of Scotland during that period.

The first Charles spent his early life exiled in Europe and was later imprisoned on the Isle of Wight before his subsequent decapitation. I am not aware that he ever set foot in Scotland.

His son Charles II, the “Merry Monarch”, reigned briefly before the abolition of the monarchy and again after Cromwell’s republic expired.

He divided his attention between the English Civil War, the procreation of his many illegitimate offspring, and trade disputes with European neighbours.

His visits to Scotland were extremely rare and Scotland, without any political union with England, had ceased to operate as an independent state by that time. That is why I regard both as primarily English kings despite their Scottish ancestry and used the word “primarily” advisedly in my letter.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


I FIND it hard to believe that little darlings as young as six can be can be sceptical about what teachers and parents tell them and even cynical at times (“Scepticism’ starts at age six”, September 12).

My progeny of three, two of whom retired this year, assure me they still believe in Santa. Clearly this is taking misinformation and fake news too far.

R. Russell Smith, Largs.