The CQC will launch a review next month into the provision of children and young people’s mental health services during the pandemic.
The review will focus on care provided ‘across the whole pathway’, including primary care and community services, the regulator said. It will take into account the experiences of children and young people diagnosed with a high-level mental health needs, both at first referral and when receiving ongoing care.
The review will take place via the CQC’s new ‘provider collaboration review’ programme, which was launched in July last year and examines how health and social care providers have collaborated locally during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at last week’s board meeting, CQC chief inspector of primary care Dr Rosie Benneyworth said: ‘I think we are all concerned about the impact that the pandemic has had on children and young people’s mental health, and we feel that it is really important that we look to make sure that people get good access to care and the right care and treatment at every aspect of the pathway.’
It comes as a recent analysis from the Royal College of Psychiatrists showed that children and teenagers were suffering most with the mental health impact of the pandemic. It quoted NHS Digital referral data revealing a 28% increase in referrals to children and young people’s mental health services during the period of April to December last year.
The CQC’s provider collaboration reviews to date have focused on care for older people and urgent and emergency care, with the review team completing assessments of cancer care services and services for people with a learning disability this month.
Four of the five reviews have also included a ‘deep dive’ on inequalities with a focus on different ethnic groups, according to the CQC.
In a letter to all providers in England last year, the CQC said the findings from the reviews could be used to inform planning for ‘any subsequent spikes of Covid-19’, as well as improving system planning and collaborative working.
In its first phase – which involved reviews of 11 Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) in July and August 2020 – the CQC’s PCR team found that the move to digital working during the pandemic ‘accelerated access to services’ and helped vulnerable groups access support.