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Mental health services for children inadequate

Poll finds 1 in 10 nurses describe it this way

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 05 October 2016

In a poll of specialist nurses seven out of 10 say mental health services for children are inadequate. 

The survey of Royal College of Nursing members, was undertaken by The Guardian newspaper. It found that half of those questioned found Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to be inadequate, while a further 20% described the service as ‘highly inadequate’. 

Despite government promises of extra investment and assurances that more young people would be able to receive care, 43% said that services were getting worse.

When asked what the main problems were, 73% of those surveyed cited too few nurses as a key problem and 72% said delays in patients getting appointments. Some 69% pointed to young people being sent ‘out of area’ to get inpatient care because of bed shortages locally, and 59% cited the inability of staff to give patients as many appointment or as much case as they needed. 

One member said: “Children and their families are suffering due to poor CAMHS, support and availability. The criteria for referral means children are having to attempt or threaten to take their own lives before receiving support.”

Only 14% said services were ‘good’ or ‘very good’. 

Fiona Smith, RCN Professional Lead for Children and Young People’s Nursing, said: “We are failing young people with mental health problems by not providing services and interventions in a timely manner.

“It’s foolish of the NHS and the Government not to really focus on meeting these young people’s needs, because we know that with [the] three out of four adults with mental health problems, their symptoms began in childhood.”

Sarah Brennan Chief Executive of the charity Young Minds, said Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have been “woefully underfunded” for a number of years.

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