Improving Mental Health Services For Our Young People

On Monday 30th October I asked the Government what action they were taking to ensure that children and young people could access mental health services in a timely way. I have been campaigning to improve CAMHS and this was my latest attempt to put the Government on the spot.

The best that Lord O’Shaughnessy, the Lords Health Minister, could offer was that each year 70,000 more children will receive evidence-based mental health treatment. This is less than half of the 150,000 CAMHS appointments that children and young people miss each year for various reasons – another issue that I have raised recently.

One of the critical issues, at a time of increasing demand for help, is the shortage of qualified staff. We now have 6.6% fewer CAMHS psychiatrists than we had in 2013 and only 2.6% of doctors who complete their foundation training go into psychiatry. Although the Government talk of 21,000 more mental health staff in post by 2020, I have yet to be convinced that there are any real plans to train, and then employ, these staff. Specialist mental health nurses are also an issue given today’s figures from the UK Nursing Register about the reduction in the number of registered nurses.

A student starting at medical school will need 13 years of training to become a consultant psychiatrist, so there are no quick fixes for increasing the numbers, particularly when in 2016 over one third of places for core psychiatry training remained unfilled. At the moment, nearly half of trainee psychiatrists come from abroad, but this “trainee migration” into the UK may well be affected by the Brexit process and is not helped by the £2000 levy (introduced in April 2017) for any employer sponsoring a psychiatrist on a Tier 2 visa.

There is no shortage of evidence of the crisis in meeting the rising demand for CAMHS, but it is much easier to bandy figures around than to talk about the very real distress of children and young people who cannot get the help they need whilst they wait weeks or months.

In October the Care Quality Commission published its phase one report on a major review of children and young people’s mental health services. CQC found significant variations in the needs of children, as a result of their different circumstances and their stage of development, but more important is the variation in the availability and quality of services. Schools, GP practices and A&E staff do not have the skills or capacity even to identify mental health problems, let alone treat them, which leads inevitably to missed opportunities to direct young people to the services they need early before the problem escalates into crisis.

Once a problem is identified, there are barriers to accessing care, with long waiting lists for specialist care in the community and a lack of in-patient beds close to where the young person lives.

We must do something to discourage qualified staff from leaving the country whilst we train more. Whilst increasing the level of services available is vital we also need to tackle the complexity and fragmentation of services, with more effort to join-up the services that are provided by so many different organisations.

* Baroness Walmsley is Co-Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group in the Lords.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

One Comment

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Nov '17 - 8:48pm

    Baronss Walmsley, one of our fine , most likeable peers , does what the best in our party the ones able to, do, make an impact. Alas though here my response is our NHS is in a desparate state of underfunding , understaffing , and lack of understanding.

    Government is the first culprit. The management the second. The attitude of all and sundry the third, as too often, change is not encouraged anymore than a person centred approach is, anywhere in public services.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPaul Walter 22nd Oct - 6:34pm
    Tim13 Well I look forward to such a connotation appearing in a dictionary. Can you spot it in a dictionary? I can’t even see such...
  • User AvatarSean Hagan 22nd Oct - 6:06pm
    I also agree with Richard - and everyone else who has expressed opposition to a special conference. The proposed constitutional changes seem mildly interesting and...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 22nd Oct - 5:33pm
    @nvelope2003 "Please name the Liberal Democrat MP who would inspire large numbers of people to vote for the party at an election." A similar challenge...
  • User AvatarNigel Quinton 22nd Oct - 5:20pm
    Well said Richard. Holding a special conference is the daftest test of whether we are a radical movement I have come across yet. I hope...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 22nd Oct - 5:13pm
    Jenny barnes, Jayne Mansfield: Lib Dems refused to prop up the Tories after the last election, even though the parliamentary arithmetic allowed for it. There...
  • User AvatarNigel Jones 22nd Oct - 5:09pm
    Richard is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. Even if there is support for constitutional changes, it should not be voted on until Autumn 2019. As I said in...