Save the Together for Children and Young People’s Mental Health Programme
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Since devolution Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Wales has been subject to a number of inquiries and reviews:
- Waterhouse Inquiry of 1998
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Residential Units Wales: A Review of Safeguards and Standards of Care Follow up Inspection, National Assembly for Wales. (2000)
- Consultation Document, Improving Health in Wales – Structural Change in the NHS in the NHS in Wales. National Assembly for Wales. (2001)
- Somebody Else’s Business? Report of a scoping exercise of child and adolescent mental health services in Wales. Office of Children’s Commissioner for Wales. (2007)
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: follow up review of safety issues. Wales Audit Office. (2013)
- Inquiry into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). National Assembly for Wales, Children, Young People and Education Committee. (2014)
- NHS Wales Specialist CAMHS Framework for Improvement. NHS Wales. (2016)
- National Inspection of Safeguarding and Care Planning of Looked After Children and Care Leavers who exhibit risky or vulnerable behaviours. Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales. (2015)
All of these inquiries have consistently found CAMHS provision to be inadequate; long waiting times, limited clinic-based services and the reliance on prescription medication. Rates of prescription medication to manage psychological distress continue to rise in Wales as services struggle to offer alternatives, including talking-based therapies.
The annual budget for mental health in Wales is £587m. A fraction of this (7%) goes to children and young people’s mental health provision. But children make up 25% of the total population and we know that 50% of mental health problems start before the age of 15; 75% starting before the age of 18. Even so, an overwhelming majority of mental health service funding is directed towards reactive, crisis management and rehabilitation orientated adult services.
Recognising some of these issues Welsh Government announced an 18% budget increase per year for the development of CAMHS in 2015. Although welcomed this increase will not be enough to abate the demands on services. There is no evidence that referral rates which have doubled twice since 2011 will decrease and the population of CYP in Wales is set to increase until 2031. These figures raise questions about the sustainability of the current CAMHS funding model.
In the same year the Minister for Health and Social Care, Mark Drakeford, launched Together for Children and Young People (T4CYP). An NHS Wales lead multi-agency service improvement programme which aims to reshape, remodel and refocus the emotional and mental health services provided for CYP in Wales. The latest CAMHS review, the Mind of Matter report, outlined and called for a stepped change approach to CYP’s mental health provision. A change that was defended in the Senedd with passionate cross-party support.
Through this support, the T4CYP programme has been exploring new ways of working and new approaches to supporting CYP with their wellbeing and mental health. However, there is a long way to go before the whole system makes adequately changes and urgent improvements are still needed in primary mental health services and early support, crisis care and inpatient provision.
T4CYP is set to end THIS October 2019 without adequate legacy arrangements in place.
The improvement programme must be extended to ensure all services are providing timely and appropriate support, from early intervention to the most specialist care for our most unwell children and young people. Without an extension to the programme, the progress and improvements already made will be at great risk.
We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to:
- Provide clarity to the public on the future of the T4CYP programme and extend its life span
- To ensure it has adequate legacy provision to ensure that all the work it has begun can be completed to the highest standard possible through sufficient and robust planning.
Please sign this petition to let Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services know that we want him to support the Together for Children and Young Peoples Mental Health Programme and give it a chance to deliver better care and support for our Children and Young People.
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