West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, highlighted the report of his Health Select Committee which was published today into the current state of children’s and adolescents’ mental health services. The report has been submitted to Ministers in the Department of Health today but Mr George is also calling on Health Commissioners, all health social services, police and other professional bodies in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly to review the contents of the report and to prepare a local response as well.
The Health Select Committee took a particular interest in the challenges faced by mental health services in Cornwall. This helped to shape many of the conclusions and recommendations in the report.
The report highlights (page 28) comments from Dr Myers of the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust who said, “we are currently commissioned to see around 2,000 referrals, but we have 4,000 a year. This has meant…having to prioritise…staff are feeling extremely run ragged…there are cancellations and times when at any one time we might be trying to manage situations where there is a need to have an inpatient bed, but there aren’t any. That takes us away from more of the front-line work that could possibly be preventing admissions.”
She added: “Due to a change in the case mix referred, i.e. more risky and unwell youngsters, there has been a knock-on effect on the ability to assess and treat non-urgent cases (mainly neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, ADHD). This has led to an increase in internal waiting times.”
Mr George said: “Mental health services are a Cinderella and receive relative underfunding. Attitudes to child mental health appear to have resorted to a ‘seen but not heard’ environment. The whole system is in a serious and counterproductive but avoidable crisis.
“As well as seeking answers from Government Ministers, I hope that local health bosses and agencies will come together to reflect on this report and to let me know what more can be done to plug the gaps which we identified in the current range of services for those children and young people who deserve more support than they are currently getting.”