Only three in ten children and young people with a mental health condition received NHS-funded treatment, and many more faced unacceptably long waits for treatment, a report by the Public Accounts Committee has found.
According to the report, figures state that one in eight (12.8%) 5-19 year olds have a mental health disorder. There has also been an increase in the number of 5-15 year olds who suffer from an emotional disorder: the figure now stands at 5.8% in comparison to 3.9% in 2004. Additionally, work to increase mental health staff numbers and develop the right skills has also progressed more slowly than planned.
‘Children and young people with mental health conditions are being failed by the NHS. Provision is far below required levels and many people who do get help face long waits for treatment,’ said Public Accounts Committee Chair, Meg Hillier MP.
‘This can be devastating for people’s life chances; their physical health, education and work prospects. The NHS must accelerate efforts to ensure it has the right staff with the right skills in the right places. But there is a broader role for Government in better supporting children and young people. Effective action on prevention and early intervention can help young people more quickly, as well as relieve pressures on health services. We will be keeping a close eye on the real-world impact of the measures proposed in the Government’s 10-year plan for the NHS.’
The report also highlights issues in relation to the recruitment and retention of NHS staff. It states that the government’s inability to increase the number of mental health nurses is a ‘roadblock to progress in this area’.
‘It is clear from this report that efforts to tackle the workforce crisis in mental health must be ramped up, though the apparent lack of detail on workforce in the government’s 10-year plan is particularly concerning and must be rectified,’ said BMA consultants committee deputy chair and NHS child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr Gary Wannan.
‘With mental health care accounting for almost a quarter of overall activity in health and social care, the £2.3bn allocation for mental health as part of the Long-Term Plan is not proportionate to the amount needed and will not facilitate genuine parity between mental and physical health services.