NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of having “failed a generation of Scottish children” as the First Minister was pressed over Ukrainian refugees potentially struggling to access under-pressure mental health services.

According to the latest data from Public Health Scotland, 1,880 children waited more than a year for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) treatment well over the 18 weeks target time set by the SNP Government.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole Hamilton warned that “almost a third of children and not seen in time”, adding that “in Glasgow, Forth Valley, Dumfries and Galloway, it’s more like half”.

He said: “Thousands of young people are waiting more than a year.

“We may be just days away from welcoming hundreds of children from Ukraine – many will be separated from parents, suffering bereavement and dealing with untold trauma.

“They may be here with us for years and they will certainly need access to CAHMS.

“It is to this government’s shame that they too will have to join the longest queue in the National Health Service."

Mr Cole-Hamilton added: “We have been warning about this crisis for years. In this time, the First Minister has failed a generation of Scottish children.

“It’s beginning to look as though this government just doesn’t care enough about this.

“Why should we trust that this will get any better – either for Scottish kids on lists now or for those Ukrainian kids arriving soon?”

Ms Sturgeon acknowledged that the CAHMS situation was an issue “of the upmost seriousness" and was being "treated as such by this government”.

She said: “Since this government took office, NHS funding on mental health has increased by 65 per cent, staffing has increased by 83%. We take these issues extremely seriously.

“The issue around waiting times and the proportion of young people not yet being seen within 18 weeks is not good enough. Yes, the pandemic has impacted on that – but we know we had challenges before the pandemic.”

The First Minister added: “It is important to note, in terms of the statistics this week, that although the proportion seen with 18 weeks had fallen and we do need to address that, the number actually seen was the second highest ever.

“What we face here is a situation where we are seeing more young people, but the demand for mental health services is also rising.

“Many countries are facing that and that is what we need to address. That is why that additional funding and that additional staffing is so important – but so too is the redesign work we are doing, investing more in prevention and early intervention.”

Ms Sturgeon admitted the CAHMS waiting lists “is a big challenge for all countries”, adding that “it was big before the pandemic, it’s even bigger given the mental health impacts of the pandemic”.