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Independents' Day

Government report on CAMHS to be released in coming weeks, says health minister

A green paper on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is set to be released ‘in the coming weeks’, a health minister has said.

Philip Dunne MP, minister of state for health, said it was ‘a scandal’ that children and young people are being sent long distances to receive mental health care because of a lack of beds. 

Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, Mr Dunne said: ‘We’ve got to put a stop to that, and we are determined to do that and that does require some more capacity building with both people and beds in some areas.’ 

In January, Theresa May announced a ‘thematic review’ of CAMHS - led by the CQC - and a green paper, which will set out plans overhaul services for families, schools and universities. 

Mr Dunne said that the Government is ‘making progress in providing capacity’, but added that there have been challenges in expanding the workforce. 

He said: ‘We are looking to add 8,000 clinicians into the mental health workforce and that doesn’t come easily.

‘There are challenges occurring to get the posts taken up but the commitment is there to do that and we’ve now published a plan so the proof of the pudding is around this time next year we can see how we’re getting on with it.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a new mental health workforce strategy, with 21,000 new posts to be created by 2020/21 including nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, peer support workers and other mental health professionals.

Mr Dunne said he accepted that the NHS ‘lost a number of mental health clinicians, particularly nurses, over the early years of the coalition Government and we’re now going to put that right’.

He added that while mental health is a priority for the Government, he admitted that they are ‘in the foothills of delivering on the priority, but we’re determined to do so’.

GPs have previously been criticised for refering too many children to CAMHS, putting unnecessary pressure on an already 'oversubscribed' service.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Why is it taking them several more weeks to write "Not fit for purpose" on a piece of green paper? Can they not find a pen? I'm sure I have an illicit drug company pen in here somewhere.

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  • National Hopeless Service

    Here is my report....
    1) takes months to be seen.
    2)Discharged instantly regardless of the diagnosis with a leaflet on charities that can 'help'.

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  • They reject 98% of referrals in my area. There is no CAMHS

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  • There was probably a time when GP referrals did increase, generated like much of our work by parental and third party demand. However, now that it is pointless to refer for anything other than severe and enduring problems and with the bouncing back of many of these, the number to eventually be seen is probably less than it was over 25 years ago.

    It seems to me that the problem with CAMHS (and indeed also general adult psychiatry) is not so much a lack of staff but poor management of perhaps inappropriate staff.

    In the distant past patients, both children and adults were usually seen by a consultant psychiatrist within 6 weeks maximum and sooner if felt to be urgent. They assessed and dealt with patients quite efficiently and passed them on as appropriate to clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and occasionally other associated staff.

    In more recent years, if successful in passing the initial vetting, patients are assessed after 4 months or so by an unspecified ‘Mental Health Professional’ who fills out a big tick-box form to see what further treatment may be appropriate. After another couple of months they may get an appointment to see the Trainee Puppet Theatre Therapist, or similar. If after 6 months that proves ineffective then an appointment to see a Nurse Therapist is arranged, but the letter usually goes astray and the GP receives a letter stating the patient did not appear - dated earlier than the attached copy of the appointment letter to the patient! (They are incapable of even cheating their own system correctly!) Having ‘failed to attend’ they are punished by having to wait a few months longer than the standard time for another appointment. Eventually a nurse sees them, assesses the situation and decides that the case is too serious for her, so no point starting any treatment. Will have to see a psychiatrist but unfortunately they are now aged 17 so although within the appropriate age range, there will not be time to complete any subsequent treatment plan, so no point seeing them. Will have to wait and be seen by adult services – but no, you can’t refer them until they are 18.

    Matters would probably be improved if they got rid of the inefficient, protocol-driven, waffling paramedicals and had patients assessed initially by experienced psychiatry staff who can make decisions. In many areas there are as many or more psychiatrists as in the past, but they just don’t seem to do much. This is suspected to be due to having passed the advanced diploma in work avoidance, exacerbated by sickness absence from boredom-related depression!
    (PS: the penultimate paragraph is all based on true events over the last few years)

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