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New mental health service is first to cover people from birth to age 25

The first mental health services for 0-25s commissioned by Birmingham CCGs will start to roll out from today (1 October) as part of a new “transformational” and integrated approach to the field.

Services will be delivered by the Forward Thinking Birmingham partnership of providers – Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Worcestershire Health & Care NHS Trust, the Priory Group, Beacon UK and the Children’s Society – and are commissioned by Birmingham South Central, Birmingham Cross City, and Sandwell and West Birmingham CCGs.

The new services have been informed by young people and families and designed by clinicians.

Focused on the individual needs of children and young adults, these services are going live in a phased approach between today and April 2016 – deemed the “safest way” of transferring services and patients between providers.

The three CCGs involved have targeted this age range in order to “bring an end to disjointed and fragmented care provision”, complex pathways and extensive waiting lists.

Services will now be more closely aligned with health, education and care plans, as well as with council services for those with learning disabilities.

David Melbourne, interim chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and lead partner in Forward Thinking Birmingham, said: “October is a significant first step in the life of our new service. Our new Access Centre phone number is now live and over the coming months we begin to take over the care of all patients up to the age of 25, and roll out our new services – such as our city-centre drop-in ‘hub’ – to help those in need get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

“We’ve really listened to what children, young people and young adults want and I am incredibly proud of the service that our partnership has created. By transforming expectations of what mental health services can provide, we know we can help set young people on a path towards a healthier, happier and brighter future.”

The main differences in the programme include:

  • For the first time, users aged 0-25 will be seen by the same service
  • A “robust” service will be introduced for 16-18 year olds
  • Further prevention activities to promote emotional wellbeing in local communities
  • Integrated care between all services in the city
  • A new city centre ‘hub’ will offer drop-in advice and support
  • A 24/7 phone number will offer instant access to all 0-25s, families, friends, health professionals and anyone with a concern
  • New inpatient beds for 18-25s in a refurbished, therapeutic environment
  • “State-of-the-art” integrated patient management system that will ensure people are no longer getting “lost in the system”

Offering an integrated service for children and young adults up to the age of 25 could also help tackle the “cliff-edge of lost support at 18” – one of the issues targeted by a taskforce set up in March to improve CAMHS.

The taskforce also proposed other ways of how the NHS could achieve better mental health links with councils and other local services, many of which feature on the Birmingham initiative. These include setting up a ‘one stop shop’ support service in the community, tackling stigma, offering online services and supporting families.

Furthermore the inclusion of inpatient beds for 18-25s in therapeutic environments could meet the standards recommended by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March, including improving the commissioning of services to make sure young people don’t get “stuck in the gap” between inpatient and community care.

The college had said at the time that a lack of access to acute mental health beds was putting children and young people at risk to themselves and others – a problem made worse by stretched community services.

Prevention, access, choice and integration

The Birmingham services will be based around the principles of prevention, access, choice, integration and joined-up care – all of which will also feature prominently in the upcoming Mental Health Taskforce report.

In terms of prevention, the partnership will challenge the stigma around mental health within Birmingham communities to help prevent problems from happening.

It will also be easier for children and young adults, as well as their families and healthcare professionals, to contact the team and get immediate access to required services “seamlessly”.

Service will be personalised and based around individual goals, with a range of flexible options between online, community and home-based care as well as flexible support in the community, home-based, urgent or inpatient care.

Local communities will work with the partnership to promote mental health and wellbeing, and other partners across the city will help join up care to help 0-25s “get back on track” as quickly as possible.

Dr Diane Reeves, accountable officer at the Birmingham South Central CCG, said services were “completely redesigned” based on the needs of those being targeted in order to give them the chance to continue in education and employment “without being limited by a mental health condition”.

Current patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Birmingham and Solihull and Mental Health Trust are being contacted about these changes and their transfer to Forward Thinking Birmingham. No action needs to be taken, but those with questions or concerns can call the new access centre team on 0300 300 0099.


John   05/10/2015 at 11:10

It is a wonderful development for Birmingham and will give hope to children and families that at last they will get the services they deserve.

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