16th Dec, 2017

Concerns raised about child mental health services

Laura Kearns 10th May, 2017

CONCERNS have been raised about mental health services for young people in Warwickshire.

Shortage of beds and the speed in assessing those with mental health issues have both been flagged as issues by Warwickshire County Council.

South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) say the council has highlighted a number of issues with local services and is now seeking a new provider for its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

SWFT chief executive Glen Burley spoke out about the service, which is currently provided by Coventry & Warwickshire Partnership Trust in the community, and by NHS England in hospitals.

He said: “Concerns around CAMHS had been highlighted by commissioners Warwickshire County Council and as a consequence a procurement process had been undertaken which was due to conclude in the next few months.

“There were concerns with the local service, in particular the responsiveness to assess patients, and the availability of specialised beds.

“Improvements needed to be made to mental health services to improve patient experience and ensure the patients were in a suitable environment.”

The concerns echo those by healthcare inspectors the Care Quality Commission, which checked the service last year and found ‘extensive waiting lists well in excess of 18 weeks’.

The council say all patients are seen within 48 hours when they are taken to hospital, but know changes need to be made after experiencing a shortage of beds.

As inpatient mental health services are commissioned nationally by NHS England the council says it does not know how many beds are available in the county.

A spokesman told the Observer: “Specialist beds are commissioned on a national basis by NHS England and as such we are not aware locally of how many beds are available.

“On occasion – and as happened recently – NHS England experience a shortage of specialist beds resulting in delays to admission.

“This delay is not a result of local service providers, however it causes a great deal of challenge for local CAMHS, hospital, and social care staff to support the child or young person until a bed is made available.”

The council says it is now working to develop a plan to combat bed shortages when the issues arises.

It has also put the CAMHS contract out to tender following an in-depth look into the service, which saw staff speak to hundreds of young people, parents, carers, and professionals.

Mental health services are currently in the spotlight after Prince Harry spoke out about issues he had following the death of his mother. His revelation has seen a surge in calls to mental health charities and people seeking help for their problems.

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