The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that the current Children’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS) System is fragmented and that stretched NHS budgets are leaving children and young people without access to vital early help services…..

| August 13, 2014

Children and Young PeopleCouncil leaders call for overhaul of children’s mental health services By  Laura McCardle

Major improvements to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are needed in order to protect the wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people, council leaders have warned.

Young people with mental health problems are ‘falling through the gaps’, the Local Government Association has said.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that the current system is fragmented and that stretched NHS budgets are leaving children and young people without access to vital early help services. The organisation wants the Department of Health to provide greater investment in CAMHS in a bid to increase rates of early diagnosis, and for community services to be given greater support to help children and young people with mental health issues access services as early as possible in a bid to stop their condition from deteriorating. The call comes less than a month after a government taskforce, made up of representatives from NHS England, the Department for Education and local councils, was set up to improve CAMHS following concerns about inappropriate care and bed shortages. Among its tasks will be to look at overhauling the way CAMHS are commissioned, to ensure young people are offered the most appropriate care, whether in the community or in hospital.

David Simmonds, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said the current system is undermining councils’ efforts to ensure that those in need of support have access to services. He said: “It is totally unacceptable that vulnerable young people who need help can end up falling through gaps in the system being widened because of funding pressures, which are fuelling long NHS waiting times. Local authorities have serious concerns about mental health funding for children and want a complete overhaul of the fragmented system that they currently face each day when trying to access services delivered by the NHS and other partners. Councils have worked hard to protect the many services they provide for vulnerable children but in the face of 40 per cent cuts to local government, this has become increasingly difficult.”

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, has welcomed the call and said funding CAMHS CAMHScuts are risking the health of children and young people.She said: “YoungMinds has been warning for several years about the dangers of cutting children and young people’s mental health early intervention services. Over the last few months we have seen the consequences of these cuts with reports of children and young people with mental illnesses ending up in police cells, being transferred hundreds of miles away or placed on inappropriate adult wards because there haven’t been the beds available. Local services providing much-needed mental health services should not have to operate in crisis – we have to get this right for children, young people and their families who are in desperate need of support.”

In June, mental health experts warned of a national crisis for CAMHS after it emerged that 74 out of 96 clinical commissioning groups have either frozen or cut their CAMHS budgets between 2013/14 and 2014/15.

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