Paula Ferguson warns young people’s lives placed at risk by mental health funding crisis

Funding pressure for child and adolescent mental health services in Hampshire is threatening our most vulnerable children, warns Paula Ferguson, Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate: A report by West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group highlights that long waiting lists in Child and Adolescent Mental Health provision in Hampshire have left services at “high risk”.

Paula Ferguson, commented: “We are letting young people’s lives reach crisis point because community mental health isn’t being prioritised.

“This week I visited Leigh House in Winchester, which provides adolescent psychiatric services for young people. The level of commitment from NHS staff was overwhelming and it’s clear that they are achieving incredible results on very tight budgets. They are turning young people’s lives around and providing hope, but they are being asked to do more with less. They told me they’re most concerned that young people can’t access the help they need early enough in the community.

“I’ve also spoken to a parent who told me that, when her daughter needed urgent help, she had to wait over three months to get an initial appointment, and over six months before her daughter got to see a child psychiatrist. When facing acute mental health problems, nine months in a young person’s life is huge. Their development and education suffers, their problems get worse and the strain on their families is enormous.”

Long waiting lists are creating significant risk

According to West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG’s) own analysis, long waiting lists in Child and Adolescent Mental Health provision are placing young people suffering from mental health problems at greater risk. The CCG’s Collaborative Commissioning Report for September 2019 noted that a “significant risk remains for children on long waiting lists” and that planned investment in mental health services for young people will “only partially resolve” the. Marked red in a traffic light-style status overview, the CCG’s report describes Child and Adolescent Mental Health as a service where “High risk still remains”.

Special Educational Needs services are under pressure

West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group also identified that Special Educational Needs provision is another area where “High Risk Still Remains”. It warns that both Hampshire County Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group had faced a significant 45% increase in demand for services that was impacting on the ability to meet statutory targets. The report also noted that the challenges in Hampshire were “a significant risk for imminent CQC/Ofsted inspections.”

Hampshire suffering from national mental healthcare underfunding

Hampshire’s challenges reflect a national picture of funding pressure. This month, the Care Quality Commission published its ‘State of Care 2018/19’ report, which revealed a rise of child and adolescent mental health inpatient services that had been rated inadequate. The report also noted an increase in the number of inpatient services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism that were rated inadequate.

“Here in Hampshire we are suffering from this government’s reluctance to place real resources towards mental health,” said Paula Ferguson. “Liberal Democrats have long argued that mental health in particular should be raised to parity with other forms of healthcare."

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