Services Must Work Hard On Adolescent Targets

Primary care trusts and mental health services must work harder to ensure they meet end-of-year targets for adolescents, the Government is expected to say in a forthcoming report. The draft progress report on the implementation of the mental health standard in the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services, seen by Young People Now, is due to be published in October by the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills. It is aimed at child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), primary care trusts (PCTs), local authorities, CAMHS commissioners, and strategic health authorities.

The National Service Framework, published in 2004, laid down standards for the development of youth health services in England over the next decade.

All areas should provide comprehensive CAMHS by the end of 2006, according to a planning document issued by the Department of Health in 2002. Short-term priorities identified in the report include the need to focus on young people with learning disabilities, and age-appropriate services for 16- and 17-year-olds. Currently, 78 per cent of PCTs are commissioning services for 16- and 17-year-olds, while 59 per cent are commissioning services for young people with learning difficulties.

Kathryn Pugh, project leader for the Stressed Out and Struggling project at YoungMinds, said: “One problem is that money for CAMHS is not coming down to PCTs, and the Government is not addressing long-term planning.”

In the report, Sheila Shribman, national clinical director for children’s health services; Louis Appleby, national clinical director for mental health services; and Naomi Eisenstadt, chief adviser on children’s services at the Department for Education and Skills; urge services not to lose momentum on CAMHS improvements and to help identify medium-term improvements.

The report also calls for dedicated services for looked-after young people and those in the youth justice system. It highlights an unpublished report by Nacro into health and youth offending teams that found that 93 per cent had a health worker, with 56 per cent attached to a CAMHS. On average, around 38 per cent of young people were not engaged with CAMHS after referral.