Three-quarters of CCGs failing to improve children’s mental health services

Almost three-quarters of CCGs in England are failing to meet NHS England’s benchmark for improving services for children and young people’s mental health, a report released by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has revealed.

The report, drawn up by researcher Emily Frith, used NHS England’s ‘Mental Health Five Year Forward View Dashboard’, which tracks the performance of CCGs, and found significant failings in most of England’s CCGs to meet standards in providing care for young people suffering from mental health problems.

Major concern was also highlighted that not enough CCGs had a clear and fully funded plan for crisis care, as less than a third (31.6%) had a fully funded plan, whilst 10.5% had no agreed plan or funding set out at all – echoing the findings of a similar report that charity the NSPCC issued in 2016.

Despite government policy that has said under 18s with mental health issues should not be treated on an adult ward, children spent a total of 2,654 nights on adult wards between July and September 2016.

The EPI’s findings show that little has improved since NHE reported a “national scandal” around children’s mental health, which found that some CCGs spent as little as £2 a child on mental health services.

The report also set out a number of key recommendations for policy change to tackle these problems, including greater scrutiny of local CCG plans over the fiver-year transformation period, also saying that the government should set out an expectation for all CCGs to produce clear and well-funded plans to improve crisis care.

NHS organisations respond

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said the report painted a “worrying picture” about support for mental health services for children in England.

“It is disappointing that despite repeated commitments to ensure parity between mental and physical health, the funding needed for mental health services is not getting through to the frontline,” she added.

“This undermines the ability to invest in and meet the benchmark of improvement set by NHS England,” Cordery explained. She also warned that a “lack of investment” was leading to disparity in the quality of services accessed by patients in different areas.

“Two-thirds of mental health trusts when surveyed by NHS Providers late last year did not believe their CCG would meet parity of esteem commitments. Effective commissioning is critical to the provision of high quality services for all,” she stated. “The promised transparency of CCG investment needs to clearly demonstrate this funding is not lost to competing priorities.”

Mental Health Network chief executive Sean Duggan added that urgent action is needed to overcome obstacles that are making it harder to transform mental health services and improve care for children.

“Its call for greater transparency around funding and other data will be well received by our members at the coalface of care,” he said. “Children’s mental health services are among the frontrunners in modernising care but they face growing pressure, so they need more of the promised – and welcome – government funding as soon as possible.”

Dr Phil Moore, chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) Mental Health Commissioners Network and deputy clinical chair of NHS Kingston CCG said: “Clinical commissioners are committed to improving children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), both in terms of the crisis care available and the preventative and early intervention services that will support young people before they reach the stage of needing this.

NHSCC also recognised that more was to be done in this area, as it called for further funding to reform it from its current state as a “Cinderella service”.

“This fact, combined with the sheer number of competing high priority demands that local clinical commissioners have on their stretched budgets, is why last year we took the unusual step of calling for the additional funding for children’s mental health announced in the March 2015 Budget to be ring-fenced.

“I still believe that this call needs to be heeded so that there will be no pressure to invest this money in anything but providing high-quality services for this group.”

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Tom Wintringham   23/03/2017 at 21:52

On the encouragement of the Department of Work and Pensions, pliable GPs are disgracefully refusing to write sick notes for their sick patients, which is giving the DWP the pretext they want to deny claimants their sickness benefits even when they can’t work – leaving ill people utterly destitute. The DWP have recruited NHS GPs with a neo-Nazi lie “work makes you healthy”- which is a version of old Nazi slogan – “Arbeit macht frei” – “Work sets you free”. The real intention is that the DWP’s army of Josef Mengele GPs are to impose a policy of “if you can’t work, you will be left to die”. Is the compassionate NHS GP service we once knew now dead? Or are there still some compassionate GPs out there who are ready to offer a nation-wide sick-note service to all who need it – a service all can turn to in their hour of need when their local GPs have sold them out to the DWP?

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