26 JUL 2012

Two-year campaign brings about major improvements to mental health services for young people in West Kent

After a two-year campaign to improve mental health services for young people, Greg welcomed the decision by NHS Kent and Medway, Kent County Council and Medway Council to commission Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to provide a new Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) using a 'community model' approach. Children who suffer from mental and emotional health problems will be provided with earlier intervention and reduced waiting times for support, as well as benefitting from treatment provided closer to home.

Greg commented:

"I have been campaigning to improve mental health services for children and young people over the last two years. Some children in West Kent have been having to wait up to 16 months to receive treatment for mental health conditions which I thought was completely unacceptable, so I am absolutely delighted that at last the service is going to be completely overhauled.

"The new service should mean people get the right treatment faster. I understand that Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation has a good track record in providing mental health services in the community which is just what we need. At long-last it looks like the 16 month waiting times will be a thing of the past."

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:

The transition from CAMHS to adult services, in particular concerns about continuity of care and the gap in service for 16-18 year olds.Waiting times from first referral to start of treatment and the impact of this on family life and the patient's condition.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:

Closing the gap between the age of 17 and 18 where currently adolescent care ends but adult care doesn't begin.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.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 12 July 2012, West Kent Primary Care Trust announced that it has commissioned Sussex partnership NHS Foundation Trust to provide the new CAMHS service which will start on 1 September 2012

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

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