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.