Fears are voiced over county’s children being failed

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council's new director for Public Health.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council's new director for Public Health.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Mental-health experts in the region say they are 'absolutely committed' to improving services for children and young people.

Their comments came after it emerged an estimated 10,215 children aged between five and 16 had a mental-health disorder in Norfolk in 2014.

Experts suggest that one in 10 children has a mental-health disorder.

Meanwhile, the number of hospital admissions for children aged 13 to 17 has more than doubled, the latest figures show.

The statistics were presented to Norfolk County Council's health overview and scrutiny committee, who met staff from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, NHS England, the Mancroft Advice Project and commissioners representing the council and clinical commissioning groups.

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Margaret Stone, a councillor, said: 'It gives me a feeling that we are failing children in Norfolk.'

Dr Louise Smith, the council's new director of public health, said: 'Children with mental-health disorders are more likely to leave schools and fall into crime.'

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Jonathan Stanley, strategic manager for the child and adolescent mental-health service (CAMHS), admitted 'these are challenging times' but added a £1.9m investment by the government announced last month was a 'brilliant boost'.

The funding has helped recruit more staff, a key issue for mental-health services in Norfolk, and will improve access-to-services for young people.

However, CAMHS referral times average eight weeks per child, which is better than the 18-week national average.

Meanwhile, NHS England and the Department of Education yesterday announced a £3m pilot programme to improve work between schools and mental health services across sites in the country.

None is in East Anglia.

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