Preventative Services Cut After Mental Health Funding Slashed

Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Sheffield have fallen victim to NHS cuts, with funding for preventative and promotion services being withdrawn. Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust last week confirmed the service will be reduced in 2007/08 as a result of a withdrawal of funding from the Sheffield Primary Care Trust. The foundation trust has said it is worried about the impact of the loss.

The Department of Health cut CAMHS funding for Sheffield by £131,000 in 2006/07 and while the primary care trust covered the lost funds last year, it has said it is unable to do so this year due to its £20m debt.

The CAMHS preventative and promotion service works with local schools, GP surgeries and community and voluntary organisations to raise awareness of mental health issues and train teachers and GPs to look for signs of mental health difficulties in children.

Jon Smith, staffside chair at the Sheffield Children’s Foundation NHS Trust, said the cuts could see three staff members lose their posts. “Staff are more concerned about the impact on children and young people than their jobs, to an extent,” he said. “Their work prevents children from having to go into mental health services at a later stage.”

Kay Lean, communications manager at Sheffield Primary Care Trust, said: “We regret the reduction in services but having assessed the options, the trust concluded the least worst option would be to reduce health promotion input in schools rather than affect direct patient care.”

She added it was hoped other agencies may be able to continue to provide some services using the training they had already received through the promotion and prevention service.

Barbara Herts, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: “It is essential that vulnerable children and young people receive the support and treatment they need at the earliest possible stage.”