21 JUL 2011

Success for campaign to improve mental health services for young people in west Kent

Greg has welcomed a breakthrough in mental health services for children and young people in West Kent, after health chiefs agreed to completely overhaul the existing service. The new service will provide a single contact point which will be much simpler for people to use and should drastically reduce waiting times as well as helping them to get the right treatment.

Greg commented:

"Compared to other areas of health, mental health services don't get the attention they deserve. I was very saddened by the stories that parents and carers were telling me about the problems they had experienced trying to get the help they so desperately need. I have been actively campaigning to improve the situation here in West Kent.

"In May, local health chiefs agreed to address some of the problems within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) with a £750,000 investment targeted at some specific problems such as providing out-of-hours assessments for under-18s in the local hospitals.

"This was a step in the right direction but I have always said that there needed to be some fundamental changes to the CAMHS service and I am delighted that this is now going ahead. By next September, the CAMHS service is going to be completely redesigned so that the primary and specialist medical health services are integrated with a single contact point. This should result in people getting faster and more appropriate treatment."

Summary of Greg's campaign:

Over the last 2-3 years, Greg has become increasingly concerned about the number of parents and carers contacting him regarding the delays and difficulties they have experienced trying to access the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for their children.

Greg wanted to find out if this experience was widespread so in July 2010, he wrote to all GP practices and headteachers in his constituency to ask their views about the CAMHS service. He also wanted to get feedback from parents so he asked GPs to put posters up in their waiting rooms and schools to put details in their newsletters asking people to send him their feedback on CAMHS.

The response was considerable, with many desperate stories of how parents had tried to seek help for their children, but had to wait up to 16 months to receive treatment. Greg also met with professionals working within CAMHS and their views concurred with the experience of GPs, teachers and parents.

The three key issues that emerged from his research were:

  1. The transition from CAMHS to adult services, in particular concerns about continuity of care and the gap in service for 16-18 year olds.
  2. Waiting times from first referral to start of treatment and the impact of this on family life and the patient's condition.
  3. The complexity and lack of co-ordination between the different CAHMS services which often meant that patients were referred inappropriately.

In October 2010, Greg called a meeting with Chief Executive of NHS West Kent, Marion Dinwoodie, to feed back the results of my research. He told her that the "CAMHS service at Tiers 2 & 3 needs to be radically transformed to provide a level of service that some other parts of the country appear to already enjoy" and she agreed to produce an action plan to address these concerns.

Greg met with NHS West Kent again in December 2010 and February 2011 to drive progress.

In May 2011, NHS West Kent agreed to invest an additional £750,000 a year to make some badly needed improvements to the CAMHS service, which was targeted at:

  1. Closing the gap between the age of 17 and 18 where currently adolescent care ends but adult care doesn't begin.
  2. Providing out-of-hours assessments for under-18s, 365-days a year in A&E, Medical wards and Paediatric wards at Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital and Pembury Hospital.
  3. Providing support for young people with ADHD. The service will include an experienced nurse prescriber who will run clinics in GP surgeries and visit families at home.

On 20 July 2011, the Board of NHS Kent & Medway agreed tore-commission current NHS primary and specialist CAMHS services into a Community CAMHS model.

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