Mental health NHS trust insists children are being seen quicker for initial assessments
A councillor who carried out a damning review into the service, has this week queried claims that wait times have dropped dramatically
By Sarah Ward
The NHS trust which provides mental health services for Northamptonshire young people has insisted improvements are real, after the councillor who carried out a damning review into the service said she was ‘suspicious’ of the new data.
Earlier this year a scrutiny group was set up to investigate the situation regarding mental health provision for young people in the West of the county, after councillors had heard some were waiting two years for treatment.
The review of child and adolescent mental health and the risk of self-harm, which was led by Conservative Cllr Rosie Herring, discovered after speaking with health providers, GPs, teachers and young people that this was the case and even declared that ‘waiting lists had effectively been closed.
A series of recommendations followed from the review and the responses and actions were presented to West Northamptonshire Council’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Cllr Herring questioned whether the improvements claimed by Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, (which has the CAMHS contract) and the Integrated Care Board [the body which oversees and commissions health services in the county) are accurate.
“The thing that stood out for me, and I was trying to get some independent verification for this, that having noted that the CAMHS referral wait was two years and effectively closed, the ICB is now quoting it as nine weeks, which big shout of hooray if that’s the case, but I find I am a bit suspicious about that figure.
“To go from two years and a closed list to nine weeks is so sensational I wonder whether it is founded in fact.”
She said she was now trying to get verification from local GPs whether this huge improvement is being felt in the community.
NN Journal contacted NHFT about Cllr Herring’s comments and it has said:
“Average waiting times for an initial CAMHS assessment is nine weeks (data as of July 2023). This reflects improvements made in the service to increase the number of initial assessments available (average waiting time for initial assessment was 16 weeks in July 2022).
“The waiting times referred to by the Scrutiny Committee report, earlier this year, related to the longest wait time for specialist therapeutic interventions (specialist treatment for a specific condition/conditions).
“Some improvements have been made in these waiting times and improving the waiting times for specialist interventions remains a priority focus for NHFT. Whilst waiting for specialist interventions, support from NHFT and our partners is provided. 12-week clinical risk reviews have been introduced for all children and young people awaiting specialist therapeutic interventions to ensure they remain safe while they wait. In addition, young people and their families are provided with crisis support information which allows for rapid escalation via crisis services if required.”
Cllr Herring’s 63-page review had found a series of issues in the CAMHS services including claims by teachers that there was a ‘missing layer of support’; an ineffective helpline; a lack of support for children in crisis and the then interim director of children’s services at WNC Chris Kiernan claimed the trust was more concerned with adult mental health services than children’s.
The number of young people attending Northampton General Hospital having self harmed was also reported as being well above the national average.