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27.10.17

Young MH sufferers being let down by ‘complicated and fractured’ system

Young people in England have to wait up to 18 months to receive appropriate help for their mental health problems, and find it increasingly difficult to access the services they need.

These are the findings of the first phase of a government commissioned review of children and young people’s mental health services, which has uncovered major issues in the sector.

The CQC found that while most specialist services provided good quality care, too many young people simply did not get care when they needed it the most.

The report stated that 39% of services had been rated as ‘requires improvement’ for responsiveness.

But more importantly, the CQC added that problems were compounded by the fact that those who worked with children and young people in schools, GPs, and A&E often did not have the skills or capacity to deal with the specific needs of children and young people.

The regulator went on to describe the system of services as “complicated and fractured”, due to a lack of joined up working between health and community care teams.

Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector for mental health said: “There are many people out there working to make sure that children and young people who experience mental health issues are offered caring support.

“Their dedication is to be celebrated. However, we must also address those times when a child or young person feels let down or not listened to and make sure the same level of support is available to each and every one of them.

“The commissioning of this review indicates that the government considers children and young people’s mental health to be a national priority.

“The complexity and fragmentation of the system is an obstacle that must be overcome if this new investment is to result in better services to meet the mental health needs of children and young people.”

And Claire Murdoch, mental health director for NHS England argued that it was “factually inarguable” that after years of underinvestment, NHS funding for young people's mental health services is now going up.

“This 15% increase far outstrips the overall rise in mental health spending, which itself is now rising far faster than the overall NHS budget,” she explained.

“Without a doubt, after years of drought, the NHS' mental health funding taps have now been turned on.

“It's going to take years of concerted practical effort to solve these service gaps - even with new money - given the time it inescapably takes to train the extra child psychiatrists, therapists and nurses required.”

Only last month, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) revealed that 50,000 children were turned away from mental health services this year.

The organisation argued that the government should focus on providing consistent early intervention for children at a local level.

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said this week’s news showed the importance of focusing on children’s mental health in the long term and suggested this would give authorities more of a push to deal with the problem.

She added: “It is right that mental health services for children and young people have been made a national priority. The consequences of failure can be severe and long lasting.

“This report is clear that while many young people receive excellent NHS mental health care, they often encounter unacceptable delays to getting it, and for some the quality of care falls short of what they need and deserve.”

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