Waiting times for mental health services in Wales have spiralled out of control to a level not seen since 2016, it has been revealed.
New figures for September show just 62.3% of mental health assessments were undertaken within 28 days from the date the referral was made.
That is down from 65.9% the month before and is the worst Welsh average waiting time since January 2016.
More than 730 patients had to wait between 28 and 56 days for an assessment as of September with nearly 600 waiting more than 56 days.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board came in at the bottom of the table with just 1-in-4 (26.5%) patients receiving their assessment within 28 days.
It is a complete outlier from the rest of Wales’ health boards, coming in at nearly 30% less than the next health board, Betsi Cadwaladr, which was on 56.3%.
There have been severe problems at Cardiff and Vale UHB with the number of people being referred for an appointment with mental health support services within 28 days dramatically fluctuating since September 2020.
But it took Welsh Government officials six months to finally meet with staff at the health board to discuss the problems.
And the Welsh Government has pumped £3 million into the health board in 2020/21 and 2021/22 to improve mental health services, but we are yet to see meaningful positive change.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Mental Health, James Evans MS, said:
“Labour ministers like to say that mental health is a top priority for them, but these figures tell a very different story indeed with waiting times at lowest levels since 2016.
“Thousands of people across the country are suffering with mental health issues, but when they do seek the help they need and deserve they face lengthy waits – and that’s simply unacceptable.
“The Welsh Conservatives have long called for action to tackle Wales’ mental health crisis by creating waiting time targets and establishing 24/7 crisis centres, but our calls have clearly fallen on deaf ears.
“I have said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face - we need to see action now before this appalling problem gets any worse.”