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Serious failing in children’s mental health services

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There are 'deep and ingrained' problems with children and adolescents' mental health services, a report by the Health Select Committee has found.

The report, published on 5 November, concluded that Children's and Adolescents' Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are unable to provide effective care for young people with mental health issues. The report identifies a lack of funding for early intervention services as a major cause for concern, as they reduce the need for more expensive and potentially traumatic procedures such as admission to mental health facilities.

The report also found an 'unacceptable variation' in the provision of community CAMHS. Providers have reported longer waiting times for services, and an increased referral threshold, due to funding pressures.

The report asserts that longer waiting times for mental health services can have a 'devestating impact' on at risk children. It states that not all community providers reported difficulties, but overall it remained a problem.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the RCN, said: 'Nursing staff work across all levels of the CAMHS system, from school nurses through to specialist children's mental health nurse consultants, and every day they can see the consequences of perverse commissioning arrangements and inadequately funded services making it too hard for children and young people with mental health problems to access care.

'Around 50 per cent of life-time mental illness starts before the age of 15. It's essential to properly fund mental health care for children and young people so that they can receive care before reaching a point of crisis. Earlier intervention and support will be good for patients and also more cost effective for the health service overall.'

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