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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted on the services provided to many user groups. Children and adolescents experiencing mental health problems who need help from the specialist health service are a vulnerable group. The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision is monitoring the consequences of the pandemic as regards the provision of services to vulnerable groups particularly closely by analysing figures from the Norwegian Patient Registry.

The following changes were apparent during the period:

  • The number of new referrals fell amongst all regional health authorities in March and April, and then rose again in May.
  • All rejected referrals recorded during the past year were linked to the Central Norway Regional Health Authority.
  • Breaches of the assessment guarantee varied amongst the regional health authorities, but no clear increase is apparent over the past three months.
  • Waiting times to have a referral assessed rose within the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority during the past three months. Amongst the other regional health authorities, there was a temporary increase, followed by a decrease again in May.
  • On a national basis, we can see an increase in the number of deadline breaches for waiting times from February to April 2020, followed by a flattening off from April to May. The number of deadline breaches for waiting times rose from April to May within the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority.

Overall, the figures suggest that activity levels and treatment capacity for children and adolescents have changed in some regional health authorities during the coronavirus pandemic. The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision considers it a matter of some concern that waiting times and the number of deadline breaches for this vulnerable patient group have exhibited a negative trend in recent months amongst some regional health authorities.

We therefore ask the county governors to follow up the relevant regional health authorities in order to clarify the actual circumstances andensure that the regional health authorities implement the necessary measures.