According to Norman Lamb, minister for care and support, the NHS is currently “dysfunctional” when it comes to caring properly for child and adolescent mental health needs.
Lamb told the parliamentary health committee, holding the final evidence session for its inquiry into child and adolescent mental health services that services had to improve. He explained that a national review would begin soon in order to ascertain the scale of the problem among young people.
Speaking about the current statistics on the prevalence of mental health problems, which are 10 years old and out of date, Lamb said: “It is horribly out of date and needs to be updated. We need to have current understanding of prevalence of mental health problems. We have secured the funding now to do this. There will be a scoping exercise going on over the summer before we start the work proper in the autumn.” He said that this “prevalence survey” would take most of 2015-16 to complete.
Lamb expressed the importance of accommodating children locally saying, “[Children] should not be, unless it’s a particular specialty, a long way away from home. We want each area to be confident that they have the beds for children and young people in their area so we [can] end this unacceptable shunting of people around the country.”
NHS England is planning to commission a further 50 beds to meet the current shortfall and the Department of Health is establishing a taskforce jointly with NHS England to look at how to achieve more rational use of the available resources.
Asked whether these services were adequately resourced by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), Lamb expressed concerns about some local decisions. He said: “There are loads of areas around the country that are increasing investment in children’s mental health services, but there are far too many that are reducing funding for an area that ought to seen as a priority.”