NHS England to take “immediate action” on beds for children in mental health

NHS England to take “immediate action” on beds for children in mental health

Following an official review of children’s mental health services and an investigation from BBC News, NHS England have opened up 50 new children’s mental health beds to improve access and availability.

A BBC News and Community Care investigation into 58 of England’s NHS mental health trusts found that 350 under-18s were admitted to adult wards in 2013-14. In response, NHS England said that treating under-18s on adult wards was “totally unacceptable in a majority of cases.”

The BBC investigation sparked NHS England to commission a report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which highlighted the issues faced by children and young people in the use of mental health services.

The findings state that a shortage of beds was making it difficult to provide room for all children and young people in need of help and some were having to travel vast distances in order to receive adequate treatment.

Commissioned by NHS England’s Specialised Commissioning Oversight Group (SCOG), the report attempted to distinguish the causes of inaccessibility to the universal, targeted and specialist services for children and young people with mental health issues.

The report says: “There are geographical inequities in provision of services with some areas very poorly served […] There needs to be a balance struck between need for a concentration of clinical expertise and a specific therapeutic environment, and the detrimental effect of long distance admissions.”

The report showed that:

  • One in six patients travelled more than 100 miles for care
  • The number of beds for children needing specialist care rose from 844 in 1999 to 1,264 in 2014
  • Out of 18 NHS trusts, 10 had sent children to young people’s units over 150 miles away in 2013/14

In response to these findings minister for care and support, Norman Lamb, said: ” I want to build a fairer society where children get the mental health care they need, but the current system is too fragmented and pressurised. To address this we are taking immediate action by making more beds available and appointing a taskforce to improve commissioning and create more joined-up services for children and young people. I am absolutely determined to get this right so that children everywhere get high-quality care.”

Although provisions are being taken by the NHS, shadow health minister Luciana Berger feels that it paints an “appalling picture” and said that the announcement came “nowhere near [to] addressing the scale of the challenge” faced in the mental health service.