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Child and adolescent mental health services "not fit for purpose"

Monday 24th September 2018
A BBC Panorama investigation has revealed how a shortage of mental health resources has led to rationing of care in some areas.
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The child and adolescent mental health service (Camhs) is failing children with mental health issues by frequently denying them treatment until their situations become extreme, doctors have told the BBC.

A Panorama investigation has found at least one local authority - Waltham Forest in London - has been rationing care to the point at which children need to have a psychotic episode, such as attempting suicide, before receiving treatment. 

The authority told the programme it has now lowered this threshold, but added: "We do not underestimate the level of challenge we are facing."

Nick Waggett from the Association of Child Psychotherapists said: "We do hear stories of children and young people having to have attempted suicide on a number of occasions actually before they are seen within the service.

"The problem is that then they're very ill and it actually becomes increasingly difficult to offer them an effective treatment."

Dr Jon Goldin, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said Camhs is very stretched, stating that it is "not fit for purpose".

Help may be at hand; the government said it has earmarked an extra £1.4 billion for child mental health services in order to provide help to an extra 70,000 children by 2020-21. 

However, Luciana Berger MP, who is a member of the House of Commons health and social care committee, claimed that money earmarked for mental health appears to have been diverted away from frontline services, arguing that whatever funds are made available need to be "ring-fenced" to stop this happening.
 
Panorama will be screening the programme tonight (September 24th). 

Recent research by the Children's Society found that around 22 per cent of girls have self-harmed by the age of 14, as have nine per cent of boys.

This was based on the 2015 Millennium Cohort Study, which revealed 109,000 self-harm cases, of which 76,000 were by females. 

NHS data showed the number of cases so severe that they led to hospital admissions almost doubled between 1997 and 2017, from 7,327 to 13,463.
 
Written by Angela Newbury

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