In 2015, the coalition government promised that £250m would be pledged towards Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) per year, but a new and damning report shows that money is going anywhere but.
The report, carried out by the Education Policy Institute Independent Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health, and overseen by the Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb, said that only £75m was making it to the correct clinical commissioning groups. The rest was found to be propping up other areas of the NHS also hit by cuts.
This lack of funding is not only taking away vital resources but causing huge problems in recruiting staff, including mental health nurses. The resulting environment now means that 23% of referred children are turned away – nearly a quarter of those who need help.
“This situation means underfunded NHS and social services are struggling to help the growing number of children experiencing serious mental health problems,” said Mental Health Network Chairwoman Bev Humphrey, “With many services almost at breaking point the commission is right – it really is time to deliver.”
Cutting back on child mental health services seems like another false economy by the government. While the money may be going to other vital services, cuts overall are causing a recruitment crisis in the NHS that is leading to poorer services and outcomes for everyone.
Not to mention that failing young people with mental health problems simply leads to the need for more expensive adult mental health care further down the line.
The report’s findings could also shed some light on the government’s failure to hire experienced locum nurses; if the allocated CAMHS money was going where it was supposed to, the budget would be there to take on desperately needed highly-skilled and experienced locums, who would go a long way to solving the recruitment crisis and improving care for young people.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has defended the government’s work on child mental health, claiming that it is a ‘priority’ and that his department is ‘already investing £1.4bn to help make sure children get the right care.’
We can only hope that the £1.4bn pledged to child mental health by 2020 doesn’t go the same way as the last funding promised!
Are you a CAMHS nurse with first-hand experience of the issues currently facing the sector? We’d love to get your insight so please get in touch to share your opinions with us.