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Report: Children's mental health services 'fractured and opaque'

The commission behind the Better Future Together report was formed in response to concerns about local mental health services. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The commission behind the Better Future Together report was formed in response to concerns about local mental health services. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

Mental health services for children and young people across Norfolk and Waveney are "fractured, opaque and experiencing increasing demand".

The review was put together by the Norfolk and Waveney Children and Young People’s Mental Health Commission. Photo: ArchantThe review was put together by the Norfolk and Waveney Children and Young People’s Mental Health Commission. Photo: Archant

That is view of several experts from health, education and charity sectors who have published a new review into the region’s child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

They are now demanding an immediate call for action to address and improve the help on offer for young people suffering mental ill health.

The document, put together by the Norfolk and Waveney Children and Young People’s Mental Health Commission, found there was:

• Too much focus on crisis and insufficient focus on prevention or early action

• Increased waiting times for mild and moderate mental health problems

• A lack of clarity about what is being provided and around some referral pathways

• Difficulties in recruiting staff and funding challenges.

The commission behind the ‘Better Future Together’ report was formed in response to concerns about local mental health services.

And while it highlighted issues with the existing service, it also noted its strengths - including the hardworking and dedicated staff.

In a joint statement, Norfolk County Council, the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) and Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) said work was already underway to create a new system that gets help to children and young people earlier.

The report said investment in CAMHS in Norfolk and Waveney made up less than 1pc of the area’s health and social care budget.

It said: “The funding of CAMHS is quite static, with no significant increase year-on-year in funding for core services.

“However, demands on services are increasing by at least 10-15pc every year.”

While it said there was “strong” local strategy in place, it also found a “fractured and opaque system experiencing increasing demand”.

Its recommendations include:

• Form a new programme board to design and implement a system providing genuine integrated care

• Design, resource and implement a single access service with clear information about what is available and how to access it

• Create an integrated model support where services are based around a young person’s needs, rather than the needs of organisations.

Official response

Norfolk County Council, the local CCGs and NSFT said the review recognised their commitment to transform and change services for the better.

In a joint statement, they said: “This has started with our jointly-commissioned review into children and young people’s emotional and mental health services. That review recognised the ambitious vision for services in the county but, as with the Better Future review, highlighted a system that is currently too fragmented and complicated for those making referrals and, more importantly for children, young people and families themselves.

“We have already begun work to create a new system in Norfolk and Waveney that gets help to children and young people earlier, so that emerging mental health needs are supported to prevent escalation and support them to build emotional resilience so they are better equipped to deal with pressures’ in today’s world.”

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